The National Football League is launching a new endeavor, NFL Academy, in London for 16-19 year olds and Patrick Mahomes will be an “ambassador” for the idea.
The National Football League has realized that the key to develop further interest in the U.K. in its own product is to begin to build a younger fan base, and they’re aiming to do just that with the launch of the first-ever NFL Academy.
The Academy will run through Barnet and Southgate College, which already hosts separate sports academies for sports like soccer, tennis, boxing and basketball. The school provides the framework within which up to 80 entrants will be accepted for the NFL Academy. From there, those students will attend classes, learn more about the game, practice a few hours of American football each week, and more.
"A team of American Football coaching experts offering high quality coaching.Personalised conditioning programmes for athletes and free use of the College’s performance gym.A team of physiotherapists, with clinic sessions.Nike American Football team wear at no cost.Playing equipment inclusive of helmets, pads and training wear.An opportunity to be NCAA eligible for US college acceptance.American Football training at least 3 times per week, with video analysis and play reviews before each practice."
The goal is that these players would then be eligible for colleges to recruit and have them play football at the next level. Hopefully at some point, the first names from the NFL Academy in north London would then be heard on draft day in a few years.
These are small seeds being planted, but they are important ones for the NFL to grow its brand in more long-term and meaningful ways overseas. An exhibition between two random teams can fill a stadium and provide an afternoon of entertainment, but it’s also short-lived in its impact. These sorts of endeavors can help grow a real passion for the sport across the pond. Imagine the popularity of London-born players making it big in the NFL. The Academy could help make that a reality down the road.
There are a handful of “ambassadors” announced with this program, players who will provide on-site coaching and perspective from time to time. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Browns wideout Odell Beckham, Jr. were both announced as ambassadors along with Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, and free agent running back Jay Ajayi.