Jacksonville Jaguars has revealed the two winners of its UK scholarship programme.
London students Tasnim El Halimi and Eryk Mocko will each receive full scholarships to a university of their choice.
The Gridiron Grant, awarded by the NFL team in partnership with LGT Vestra, rewards American football fans and players for their support to their local community.
The programme, unveiled earlier this year, is the UK’s first American football scholarship, forming part of the Jags’ community-focused investment in the UK market.
The winning candidates were selected through interveiws at the NFL offices in London by a panel of experts that included LGT Vestra US CEO, Paul Nixon and Jaguars senior sice president of international development, Hussain Naqui alongside award-winning head teacher, Sir William Atkinson, and Preeti Baines a senior human resources advisor at LGT Vestra US.
The winners were chosen based on their promise across academic achievement, participation in American football, commitment to the community and demonstration of personal endeavour.
Successful student Tasnim El Halimi said: “Winning the Gridiron Grant is a dream come true. I will be the first in my family to be going to university which is a big deal, especially being a female. With university fees being so high, I’m so excited to have the opportunity to be broadening my education to start building my career. I am eternally thankful to the Jaguars and LGT Vestra US for making it possible.”
Eryk Mocko, the other winning candidate, praised the JagTag programme that has been at his school in Fulham. He said: “Through JagTag I have really seen a change in my life – it’s made me healthier and more determined. JagTag has made me become a better version of myself and I’m ecstatic to now have the opportunity to further my education thanks to the Jaguars and LGT Vestra US.”
The Gridiron programme will also provide the students with an integrated mentoring process to help them with stress and time management and any additional support required to help them graduate.
Commenting on the initiative, Jacksonville Jaguars’ Naqi, said: “The Gridiron Grant scholarship programme was designed as another initiative that engages and inspires young people in the UK through American football.
“We were delighted to work with LGT Vestra US to bring this ground-breaking initiative and find two excellent candidates who epitomise what the Gridiron Grant is all about and offer them an opportunity to access free further education to really help their lives progress.”
Paul Nixon added: “We’re delighted to have selected these two aspiring students to be part of the first Gridiron Grant programme. Seeing the determination and drive these two have while offering great support to their community was a real standout for offering them the places.
“We look forward to continuing our support with the Jaguars in developing young people in the UK through grassroots American football.”
Judge Atkinson also commented: “Not only does this award give the children an opportunity for a first-class education, but equally important is the space that it creates for these young people to grow and develop by taking advantage of opportunities that are not normally available in their everyday environment.
“Linking sport, business and education is a powerful partnership and the Gridiron Grant is a fantastic scholarship that links all three for the benefit of these winners.”
The scholarship builds on the Jaguars’ and LGT Vestra US’ previous UK commitments, which include a Reward Rows initiative that saw more than 500 children earn the chance to go to Wembley to watch the Jaguars v Ravens NFL regular season game last year.