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This image provided by the NFL shows Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, in the center of the group facing the camera, during a soccer camp at Adjinganor Field in Accra, Ghana on April 2, 2022. After the camp the Last weekend, the NFL announced a three-day camp will be held in the capital Accra in June. (Emily Wirz/NFL via AP)

PA

The NFL is paving the way for African players with a development camp in Ghana.

Following a camp last weekend with Ghanaian-born Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, the league has announced a three-day camp will be held in the capital Accra in June. It will feature players who have previously competed in regional events led by Osi Umenyiora, the two-time Super Bowl-winning defensive end with the New York Giants.

Specific dates in June for the camp and a fan event have not been set, but the camp received endorsement last weekend from Ghana’s vice president, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.

“Bringing the NFL to Africa has long been a dream of mine,” said Umenyiora, whose parents are Nigerian. “Today, that dream is a reality. The opportunities available to so many Africans cannot be underestimated, and we are grateful to them. We look forward to showing the world what we can do.”

Umenyiora has established The Uprise, a football program in Nigeria, and has run regional camps in South Africa and Ghana, with an upcoming camp in Nigeria. Players who impress at all three camps will be invited to the NFL Camp in Accra. The idea is to better identify and develop talent in Africa.

Thanks to Umenyiora and The Uprise, three Nigerian athletes – Kehinde Hassan Oginni, Chigbo Roy Mbaeteka and Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi – had the opportunity to participate in the NFL’s International Combine in London last October. They were then selected to train in the United States under the International Player Pathway program.

“We are looking forward to hosting our first camp in Ghana and will look to be active in Nigeria and other African countries in the future,” said Damani Leech, NFL director of operations for international events. “We want to provide an opportunity for the next generation of African prospects to showcase…their talent. As we continue to seek ways to strengthen the NFL’s international player pipeline, we hope that this camp and future camps will provide a path forward for aspiring players across the continent.

“We are excited about the opportunity to identify talent to participate in international combinations, the International Player Pathway program and, for athletes aged 16-19, the opportunity to attend the NFL Academy in London.”

As the NFL searches for potential players around the world, it has held international combinations in the UK, Australia and Germany. This season, in addition to four regular season games in London, the NFL will play the regular season in Munich for the first time.

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