"The NFL Academy Journey"

“The NFL Academy Journey”

“Before the Tuesday NFL session with BIGKID I was involved a little with American football. at around the age of 14/15. I would watch a lot of short clips of tackles and touchdowns and it looked like something I would be good at. I tried looking for a team but around those ages I was not able or willing to pay the fees needed.”

Meet Rami, one of the BIGKID beneficiaries who made it into the newly founded UK NFL Academy!

From left to right: Walter, TJ & Rami

“A couple years later I was introduced to BIGKID through my friends that played football there. I was invited to attend the 6 week flag football programme with BIGKID and Nike and ever since then I have improved my skills and knowledge of the sport and met some new people that have helped me on my journey. Since starting with BIGKID my passion for the sport has grown. The involvement with BIGKID and the flag football programme helped me meet someone I had heard so much about, Efe Obada an NFL player from the UK. Even Efe has encouraged me to go further and introduced me to a few people who can help me pursue this passion moving forward. He introduced me to head coaches and bought boots for me for the NFL academy trials, I am more than grateful for his support, and even now he continues to mentor and advice me.”

Efe Obada who plays for the Carolina Panthers as a Defensive End is one of our Celebrity Ambassadors and has assumed the big brother role with our young people, coming down to flag football sessions and youth club and being a role model and beacon of hope as well as an inspiration for our young people.

“One of the things I struggled with was finding time to train to due to my work and school life balance. However BIGKID gave me an opportunity to improve my skills through the Tuesday flag football sessions which I looked forward to every week. Along this journey a few people have supported me, in particular the BIGKID Foundation coaches; Andre, Dellali and Shaninga with the Tuesday flag football session and their continuous motivation. I remember the first day I came to BIGKID and Shaninga told me I remind him of Marshawn Lynch and it’s crazy because that’s my favourite player!”

Sports has always been a community galvanising tool. But one sport which has broken its way into the UK scene is American Football. Since starting our flag football programme, its been popular to say the least, with engagement numbers of 70 kids per week across South London. Another success story is the creation of the BIGKID x Renegade flag football team who worked themselves up to the National Flag Football Finals after only playing the sport for a few months.

Steve from the South London Renegades has also been a great support, he believes in me and always encouraged me to come training. He taught me the basics and he is part of the reason I am where I am today. Even coming down to Larkhall park and staying late to teach me extra drills for the trials. I am grateful for all the support I have received from everyone”

Steve Verrall coach of the South London Renegades and his team of coaches made sure to sacrifice and pour into these young boys with hours of coaching and training to make sure the boys were physically and mentally prepared for the trials. This collaboration to see these boys succeed has been nothing short of inspiring, and another reminder that no man is an island, but it takes a community of people for you to go far in life.

The academy which officially started on the 2nd of September 19 was made available to 80 students aged 16-18. Situated in Barnet & Southgate College, the academy offers the 80 students access to elite sports facilities and a fantastic opportunity to learn from world class coaches and players from the NFL. The opportunity does not stop there, with the provision to undergo qualifications such as BTECs and A levels and undergo character development programmes to better equip the students in their future pursuits, whether it be in the NFL or elsewhere. And with the help of these collection of role models and coaches; Rami, Walter and TJ worked themselves into the final 80 students picked to be a part of this cohort of students.

Walter, TJ & Rami with Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver JuJu" Smith-Schuster

Rami’s story is one of encouragement, one that reminds us that there is talent and potential in everyone. It’s all about taking the time and patience to help bring it out. We hope for the best for Rami, Walter and TJ as they aim to conquer and make the most out of the opportunity they have been given.

We as an organisation are now more determined than ever to help inspire and grow these young people and propel them into their purpose and passion. This has been coupled with us moving to deliver Flag football sessions at five south London based school and growing our Tuesday Flag football sessions, making them more fun inclusive and challenging.

Stay tuned for more from Rami, Tj and Walter as we follow them on this amazing journey.

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