The NFL is launching the NFL Academy, a UK program that uses American football to create educational and professional opportunities for young people.

Based at Barnet and Southgate College in North London, the NFL Academy will provide student-athletes aged 16-18 with pathways into employment, further education and the potential opportunity to play NCAA college football in the United States.

“The Academy is a first-of-its kind initiative that will deliver against three key elements: education, character development and football,” said NFL UK Managing Director Alistair Kirkwood. “This is an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of many young people, regardless of their experience of our sport. It is also an opportunity for us to create a pathway for players to get into the American college system and maybe even to the NFL.”

“We are proud and excited to be the first UK college to offer this unique program in partnership with the NFL,” said Darren Mepham, CEO of Barnet and Southgate College. “It joins a number of other sporting academies offered by the college, highlighting our breadth of experience in delivering these dual programs.”

Many high-profile current players and NFL Legends have pledged to support the Academy in ambassador roles:

Player Team
Osi Umenyiora NFL Legend
Jerry Rice NFL Legend
Odell Beckham Jr Cleveland Browns
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs
JuJu Smith-Schuster Pittsburgh Steelers
Jay Ajayi Philadelphia Eagles
Efe Obada Carolina Panthers

“Being from London and having spent time with so many young athletes there, I know how much the NFL Academy will mean to them,” said Obada. “To have the chance to pursue American football while receiving an education and other life-changing skills is an awesome opportunity. The values that the sport teaches go beyond the field and can help you make more of your life. I am really excited to give the NFL Academy my support and help these young people achieve their dreams."

The NFL Academy will begin operations in September. Recruitment for the first class of approximately 80 students will take place over the next three months via a series of tryouts. To learn more, visit