The battle for the IFAF U20 World Junior Crown began back in 2009

In 1920, ten football teams gathered in Canton, Ohio to create the American Professional Football Association (APFA), now known as the National Football League (NFL). On October 3 of that year, some 200 miles away but still within the state of Ohio, the Dayton Triangles hosted what is recognized as the first-ever game in NFL history as they defeated the Columbus Panhandles 14-0.

So, it was fitting that almost 89 years later, Fawcett Stadium at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton – since renamed to honor the late New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson – played host to the inaugural IFAF Junior World Championship. Eight nations descended on Canton, welcomed by Walsh University where all participants were housed and practiced during a true celebration of youth football.

Canada arrived as the number one seed by virtue of having won the most recent NFL Global Junior Championship; a similar annual event played in the Super Bowl host city between 1997 and 2007, which had proved that the concept of international U19 competition was viable.

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Michael Preston (@PRMikePreston) is currently working with IFAF in a PR capacity. He recently covered Super Bowl LVII as a member of the NFL PR team as he has done for 20+ years. He has held communications positions with NFL Europe, the North