International Player Pathway Program Sees Its Best Ever Year

The International Player Pathway Program (IPP) is an initiative set up by the NFL that aims to find athletes from outside the US who can make it in the NFL. Since it was established in 2017, it’s help increase the number of international players in the league, which not only increases the overall football talent pool but also increases interest from international fans.

In 2023, the IPP program saw its best ever year, as eight international players joined NFL rosters through the program, and most experts agree that these numbers will continue to rise as global interest in football grows. While the IPP isn’t the first initiative that aimed to increase international participation in the NFL, it is the most successful, and it illustrates the importance of providing opportunities.

The NFL is already one of the most exciting and dramatic sporting leagues in the world, attracting hundreds of millions of viewers and billions of dollars in bets. You can find the latest NFL betting odds online and watch all of the games once the season gets underway. With a growing talent pool, the sport could get even more exciting.

How the International Player Pathway Program Works

To be eligible for the IPP program, applicants need to be 24 years old or younger, out of high school for at least four years, and speak English. In addition, they must not be a citizen of the US or Canada and must not have played football at a US college.

Before athletes are accepted into the IPP program, they must take part in the NFL International Combine, which took place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, UK, last season. Thirty-eight players from thirteen different countries took part, and in the end, thirteen of those athletes were invited to the IPP.

All of the participants in the IPP then took part in a grueling 10-week training camp at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Not only that, but they also had the chance to showcase their talents in front of NFL club scouts during a pro day at the University of Florida.

In the end, eight of the original athletes made it through the IPP program and were selected to be added to the rosters of teams in the NFC North and AFC West. The IPP utilizes a random draw to allocate players to teams in the chosen divisions, but since the initiative started in 2017, all thirty-two teams in the league have received an international player through the IPP.

Which International Players Joined the NFL in 2023?

This year, the IPP program added six Nigerians, one Australian, and one French athlete to the NFL. These include:

Patrick Murtagh

Murtagh is a 23 year old Australian who joins the Detroit Lions through the IPP this year. The former Aussie Rules player has now switched sports and becomes a tight-end after leaving the Gold Coast Suns in his native country.

Basil Chijioke Okoye

This year’s IPP program discovered six Nigerians who came up through the inaugural NFL Africa talent camp held last year. Okoye, who goes by CJ, is a 315-pound defensive lineman who has now joined the Los Angeles Chargers.

Junior Aho

Born in France, Aho previously played football for the Dauphins De Nice as well as the French national team, where he won the European Gold Championship. The defensive linebacker has joined the Minnesota Vikings, where he hopes he can break into the active roster.

Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi

Offensive tackle Ndubuisi is another athlete joining the NFL from Nigeria. While he played soccer as a child, he joined the Uprise Academy, which is run by former NFL offensive lineman Osi Umenyiora.

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