The New York Giants two-time Super Bowl Champion Osi Umenyiora appears to be bringing an NFL presence to Africa, reported Leonard Solms for ESPN . He seems to be recruiting the best young athletes in Africa and convincing anyone who’d listen to try out American football. The popular sports out there are basketball, rugby, and soccer. Naturally, these three sports are considered to be global sports while someone in Africa may have limited access or less exposure to American football.
Luckily, the standard of players at Umenyiora’s camps was high enough to help convince the NFL. He’s able to travel to Africa to further the International Player Pathway (IPP). The biggest takeaway from his camp happens to be a basketball player. They were able to later convert into a potential offensive tackle. Nigeria’s CJ Okoye is a 6’8 barely made the camp; however, Giants legend saw a spark in the 20-year-old. The potential appears to be there with a large man gifted with abnormal athletic abilities.
“He didn’t test particularly well in the drills [at The Uprise],” Umenyiora stated to ESPN. “The problem is — because they have never done those drills before and it’s a different kind of training to execute them properly. When you test them, the numbers won’t be that impressive.”
“But then you put him in a competitive situation and he stands out. So, after watching him in competition, I decided he was well worth a chance,” he continued.
Osi Umenyiora Instincts Proves to be Right
While Okoye was a bit raw he still managed to win the offensive MVP at the NFL camp unexpectedly. Umenyiora surprisingly admitted he hoped he performed to an exceptional level. Never did he believe he can go into this camp and absolutely annihilate his competition and win the offensive MVP.
“I won’t lie, I didn’t [think I could be offensive MVP]. When Osi brought Uprise to Nigeria, I barely made it. When he put my name down, he was like: ‘This one needs to work hard,'” Okoye told ESPN.
“I was a basketball player — a very good basketball player. I was playing in one of the local leagues [in Nigeria].
“Didn’t give it much thought because, in Nigeria, we don’t have American football. Thanks to Osi, [that is changing.]”
It is safe to say, many more players from Africa will break the mold due to this program and help globalize the sport of football. Globalizing the sport (football) like basketball, soccer, and rugby will benefit the game and many athletes. The game will see more diversity and will allow many more athletes around the world opportunities to play the game much love and adore!