American football can attract local, foreign sponsors to Nigeria, says Akeredolu
• NAFA begins capacity-building clinic across the country
President of the Nigeria American Football Association (NAFA), Babajide Akeredolu, has said that the country can get more local and foreign investors to contribute to the development of sports when American football eventually becomes one of the top sports in the nation.
Speaking in Lagos at the unveiling of the U-18 boys and girls national teams, Akeredolu said the discovery that Nigeria has the largest number of players of African descent playing in the National Football League (NFL), the highest level of American Football, which is one of the richest team sports in the world, indicates that there are abundant talents across the federation that can make American football a money-spinning league in Nigeria.
Akeredolu, who was excited about the establishment of the first U-18 national team for Flag Football, said Nigeria’s participation in an international championship next year will boost international awareness of American football in Nigeria and also expose young secondary school players discovered in the country to a high level of competition in the sport.
He added that arrangements were in top gear to search for more talents in the sport across the country, saying that NAFA’s organisation of a vibrant American Football League is in the pipeline.
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“NAFA has so far experienced fast and steady growth due to Nigerians’ acceptance and embrace of American Football.
“We are delighted that the organisation of American Football has finally brought the country into the multibillion-dollar industry, where Nigerians abroad are seen to be overachieving.
“An example is the fact that Nigeria has the largest number of players in the American Football league (NFL). A number that is said to be up to 10 times more than any other nation in the world except America.
“The sport is another pathway to success for Nigerian youths. We are focused to train and engage the youths and create more opportunities for them in the sport,” he said.
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NAFA General Secretary, Lawrence Ojaideh, told The Guardian at the weekend that the association has commenced a capacity-building practical school team set-up programme across the states to train more coaches for the sport.
He said: “We have spread the capacity building exercise we started in Lagos to other states.
“Ogun State will have their own from October 10 to 14; Oyo State will hold from October 17 to 19; Delta’s clinic will hold from October 27 to 29; while it will be Ondo’s turn from October 24 to 26.
“Osun State, Ondo State, Akwa Ibom and FCT are also listed for the capacity building exercise.. NAFA is committed to creating more awareness of American football to all the geopolitical zones of the country,” he said.
He also revealed that screening for more players across the country for the junior national teams will hold next year, adding, “catching players young will help develop the sports in Nigeria. We are also focused on taking the training of the sport to more schools in the country.”
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