Touchdown for Ghana: American football's rise promises new sports business
Game Changer: The Born to Play advert projected Ghana as a fertile ground for NFL's African project

Touchdown for Ghana: American football's rise promises new sports business

In the tranquil beachfront setting of Keta, students from Imhotep Charter High School in the USA rounded off a charitable endeavour by partaking in a spirited flag football match with a local team last week. 


While Keta is better known for its beach sports, the introduction of American gridiron football, gaining traction in Ghana's elementary schools, marked a unique cultural exchange.

These students, part of Imhotep Charter's STEM programme, embarked on a 10-day journey to Ghana to install water filtration systems, ensuring clean water access for the coastal community. 

This initiative resonates with the school's collaboration with the Philadelphia Eagles of the American National Football League (NFL), who have directed their corporate social responsibility efforts towards Ghana.

The Eagles' engagement in Ghana is part of a broader NFL agenda to introduce American football to Africa, aligning with its globalisation initiative. Collaborating closely with local partners, the NFL aims to expand its presence and cater to its growing fan base across the continent. 

Ghana's increasing influence in American football, exemplified by Ghanaian players excelling in the NFL, has positioned the country as a strategic partner for the league's African expansion. 

Efforts by Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, including meetings with NFL officials in Accra and the USA, have further bolstered Ghana's role as a hub of the NFL's African programme.

Super Bowl Spotlight Illuminates Ghana's NFL Ambitions

On a historic night at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Ghana shared the global stage as Ekwow Boye-Doe clinched victory with the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII. 

Amidst the excitement during the much-vaunted halftime show (the most valuable time in advertising, with companies paying between $6.5m to $7 million for a 30-second commercial on primetime TV watched by an estimated 123.7 million people across the world), a captivating two-and-a-half-minute commercial titled "Born to Play" showcased Ghana's burgeoning American football scene, featuring NFL stars including Ghanaian Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah navigating Accra's vibrant streets.

It was a big publicity coup for Ghana as the advertisement not only celebrated the sport's international growth but also marked the launch of global pathways for aspiring players. 

The culmination of this dream led to the inaugural NFL Africa Camp in Accra, bridging aspirations with tangible opportunities.

NFL's commitment

The NFL's commitment to nurturing African talent is evident through initiatives such as the NFL Africa Camp and the International Player Pathway Programme. 

With over 100 players of African descent currently involved, the league aims to amplify the contributions of African players while igniting passion for the sport among the continent's youth.

Recent NFL drafts have provided numerous opportunities for African players, with projections suggesting a continued rise in representation. 

The league's investment in Ghana, supported by the Ghana American Football Federation (GAFF), underscores its commitment to cultivating talent beyond traditional markets.      

Ghana's Role in NFL's Global Expansion

While Ghana's association football talents shine in the top leagues of Europe and at the FIFA world Cup, the emergence of gridiron football presents a promising avenue for Ghanaian athletes.

Government support

With government support and NFL investments on the horizon, Ghana stands poised to become a focal point for the world's wealthiest league, mirroring the influx of resources seen in European football. 

Currently, there is an active Ghana American Football Federation (GAFF) which, works with NFL to implement flag football in Basic schools in the country.

During last week’s NFL draft, many more Africans gained an opportunity to join NFL teams and it is being estimated that these numbers will keep rising in the coming years. 


At the heart of this projection is the league’s International Player Pathway (IPP) Programme, which gives “elite international athletes” from outside the US and Canada a chance to earn a spot on an NFL team.

The NFL’s pathway for African players therefore started with its developmental camp in Ghana with many young Ghanaians introduced to gridiron football through programmes such as ‘Flag Football’ in schools and other initiatives which have taken talented players to competitions in South Africa and the US.

Two years ago, nine young Ghanaians were selected by the NFL, through an inter-school competition, to represent Ghana and Africa at the 2022 Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, USA.

Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has advocated the establishment of an NFL Africa Academy in Ghana, citing the country's vibrant youth and conducive business environment. 


Discussions between Dr Bawumia's office and NFL officials have explored the potential for expanding NFL operations in Ghana, with an emphasis on talent discovery and development.  

Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has made a strong case to the National Football League (NFL), the global governing body in charge of American professional football, to establish an NFL Africa Academy in Ghana to unearth and develop talents.

On the long-term promotion and development of NFL in Ghana and the African continent, Dr Bawumia noted that establishing an academy, in the model of a football academy, would be a great way to develop NFL talents and also provide the youth with alternative career paths through education and sports. 

Cleveland Browns linebacker Owusu-Koramoah is, perhaps, the best-known Ghanaian in the league even though Boye-Doe became the fourth player of Ghanaian descent to win the prestigious Super Bowl. 


Some Ghanaians in NFL

Recently named the best-dressed player in the NFL, Owusu-Koramoah deliberately showcases his Ghanaian and African heritage in his pregame wardrobe while taking the American football faithful on a journey through the continent rarely seen before in American pro sports. 

Apart from the league’s fashion icon, some other prominent Ghanaians have captivated the world's wealthiest sports league: former San Francisco 49ers player Ezekiel Ansah (now a free agent), Nyan Boateng (stints with New York Giants, Chicago Rush, and Milwaukee Mustangs), Ebenezer Ekuban (Dallas Cowboys), Edmund Kugbila (Carolina Panthers), Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions), Charlie Peprah (New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys), Joseph Addai Duah Addai Jr (Indianapolis Colts). 

They have proved over the last four decades that Ghanaians have the talent to play in top-level American football and also pave the way for future Ghanaian players in the NFL.

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