The NFL has made its debut at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with an academy showcase event attended by 150 teenagers.
NFL Academy: Stadium Showcase is the final try-out for selection in the first intake of the NFL Academy, which begins operations in September.
The trials served as the first NFL event at Tottenham’s new stadium, which opened in April. The 62,000-capacity venue will stage its first NFL games later this year when the Chicago Bears take on the Oakland Raiders on 6th October and the Carolina Panthers face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on 13th October.
Trialists were put through NFL Combine-style drills, with NFL Academy Head Coach Tony Allen and NFL UK’s Head of Player Development Will Bryce in attendance.
The NFL Academy will be based at Barnet and Southgate College and will be a first-of-its-kind initiative outside of the US, providing student-athletes aged 16-18 with the chance to combine education with life skills and training. The academy will give students the opportunity to gain employment and further education, and play NCAA college football in the US.
Efe Obada, who was raised in London and now plays for the Panthers, said: “Growing up here in the UK, I know how valuable opportunities like this can be for these youngsters and how important they will be for growing the sport in this country.
“Being part of the try-outs has been a memorable day for me. I’ve been delighted to meet the young people here today and watch them take this incredible opportunity with both hands. I wish them all the very best for the future.”
Staying with American sports, Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he would like “sustained play” in Europe following the success of London Stadium’s games at the weekend.
London Stadium staged two games between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox on Saturday and Sunday, and the venue is due to host a further two games next year between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. Manfred did not reveal which cities the league would be targeting for future games.
“I would like to have sustained play in Europe,” he said, according to reports. “I’m glad we’re coming back next year. I’d like to be back after that. But I am interested in having play in other cities in Europe.”
He added: “We’re really at a very preliminary point. The key thing with any city is the facility. A lot of people will tell you they can build a ballpark. Until you get on the ground and figure whether a particular facility can be configured for baseball, it’s just premature to get into other cities.”
MLB has also opted to cancel plans to begin its 2020 season in Asia. This year, MLB started the season in Tokyo but Manfred cited the league’s “fairly small international staff” as a reason for not heading to Asia for its season-opener next year.