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Efe Obada Hosts NFL Foundation UK’s Flag Festival & Youth Camp

July 21, 2023

Since 2022, Beyond Sport has been supporting the rollout of the NFL Foundation UK London grants programme in partnership with the Mayor of London. Now encompassing 15 recipient organisations who run NFL Flag (the non-contact version of American Football) projects across the city – as well as additional programmes in Birmingham and Greater Manchester supported by Sport England – the partnerships are co-created with local community charities to increase opportunities and support for underserved 11-20-year-olds from diverse backgrounds. Through a fun and inclusive environment, the programme works to reduce inequalities and unemployment, while promoting education and valuing young people’s contributions to society. The projects, covering 18 different boroughs within London, are expected to reach over 4,000 young people by March 2024.

Last week, 120 young people from across the London projects gathered at Crystal Palace in the UK for a NFL Flag festival and Youth Camp, hosted by Efe Obada, who currently plays for the NFL’s Washington Commanders. Obada, who was born in Nigeria and grew up in South London, discovered American football at a London community club at the age of 21. He was subsequently scouted by the NFL which began his journey to playing in the League as the longest serving current British player. Obada is now an ambassador for the NFL Foundation UK and one of its London grantee partners, the BIGKID Foundation. His story inspired the attending youth, showing them how sport can be life-changing in a number of ways.

“I grew up in South London, so this is a homecoming for me and I’m able to give something back to my community. I only began playing American football at the age of 21, so working with the NFL Foundation UK and the BIGKID Foundation to help provide more opportunities in a sport that I love, and especially flag football, brings me a lot of joy. The future looks bright and I love seeing the positive impact it can make on kids’ lives. I can’t wait to see more South Londoners in the NFL in the future,” said Obada.

During the July 13 festival, supported by the Mayor of London and the BIGKID Foundation, youth from community partners and local schools enjoyed a high-energy afternoon of NFL Flag drills, small-sided games and mindfulness activities focused on mental wellbeing. Janpal Basran, Director at Southall Community Alliance, emphasised the importance of bringing young people together from different backgrounds and areas of the city. “The other young people made the students feel really welcome and involved. Many do not have the opportunity to be a part of a team or play competitive sport, but through this project now enjoy the chance to participate in a fun, group activity and build connections with others.”

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NFL Flag is one of the fastest sport disciplines globally and is played by more than 20 million people in more than 100 countries. Its non-contact nature makes it easy for all genders to play together, whilst the multitude of player positions means there is a role for every body size, shape and ability. In London, partners have seen great success in engaging often inactive youth, with around 50% of participants female and more than 75% from diverse ethnic communities.

In recent months, seven new community partners joined the NFL Foundation UK’s London roster, which originally included eight organisations. Whilst each engages different groups of young people, including those in alternative education settings, females from the Muslim community and unaccompanied minors coming to the UK as refugees amongst others, all have a focus on using NFL Flag to increase opportunities for their beneficiaries and impact -- objectives aligned to the NFL Foundation UK and Beyond Sport.

“Being a partner of the NFL Foundation UK and Beyond Sport means we are able to broaden our projects with new activities for our beneficiaries...We hope the project will enable them to build confidence, develop interpersonal and social skills, make new friends and have a sense of belonging within the wider community,” shared Ahmed Mohammed, Project Coordinator of Phoenix Community Care, which attended the festival. “This means PCC will be in a position to continue to improve the lives of young refugees and asylum-seeking children’s wellbeing through holistic approaches by bringing them together in a safe environment.”

We are currently assisting with the program expansion in Birmingham and Greater Manchester, where six new community organisations will be selected. Grant funding and coach training will enable them to establish their own NFL Flag projects to help tackle inequality of opportunity for young people in their local areas.


Founded in 2021, the NFL Foundation UK Foundation aims to address the inequality that exists in society and believes that all young people deserve a level playing field. Through grants, training and equipment to local community organisations, alongside partnerships that enable young people to access positive opportunities, they are working to create a level playing field for all young people. Its strategy was created by our sister company, thinkBeyond.


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