NFL Coach Jeremiah Washburn from the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday conducted a football workshop at the American Center in Kampala. He later held basic drills with a group of players at the Henry Sports Center’s astro turf in Kabalagala, Kampala.
At the American Center, Washburn’s presentation focused on the subject “Coaching As Leadership” where he shared insights from his decades-long career rising from a Football Operations Assistant to Senior Defensive Assistant Coach/Director of player personnel. Coaches, players, fans and media were in attendance.
“In football there are five core values, that is; competition/competitiveness, connection, accountability (for your actions), fundamentals (techniques like throwing, catching and tackling) and being smart,” Washburn told the audience adding that athletes must be dedicated to their craft but told coaches that motivating young men to play the game is a big challenge.
Washburn was in the company of Steven George Okeng who’s the president of the American Football Federation of Uganda (AFFU). The latter recently returned from the United States where he had gone for high level engagements geared towards the development, promotion and prioritization of American Football as a Potential Sport in Uganda.
Washburn’s visit is one the steps AFFU has taken in their bid to develop and promote football in the country. His maiden visit was in 2019.
Washburn who anticipates a bright future for the game here in Uganda tipped coaches on how to start out with newbies and very young athletes
“When starting to coach football one should focus on defense including in the 7 on 7 leagues. This doesn’t need a lot of equipment, all you need is a ball and a pitch to start. After finishing the basics, one can then move to 11 on 11 format,” Washburn said.
Washburn added that with the strides AFFU is taking to develop the game, football can grow here if there’s consistency and dedication from all stakeholders.
“I already see talent, heart and will (for football) within the Uganda youth. This will lead to greater things,” Washburn noted adding that flag football is a great way to start.
Meanwhile, Okeng who delights in Washburn’s second visit is optimistic that strides like this will surely help develop American Football, a sport which is not very popular in Uganda.
“I believe coaches and players have learnt a lot from him when it comes to team development, team nurturing and the like,” Okeng said adding that they tend to broaden their wings throughout the country by holding camps in upcountry settings.
Okeng also added that they want to partner with more schools and universities in order to tap into more potential talent throughout the country. The federation will also hunt for scholarships for the athletes, both locally and internationally.
Kyambogo University, RG American Football Club, Otino WA, Ntinda Eagles, Lubowa Bengals, Kyambogo Parkers, Lira University and Gulu University were some of the clubs who attended Friday events.
Okeng is hoping to travel for the Ghana for the NFL first official events to take place in Africa beginning June 21. The week of activities — NFL Africa: The Touchdown — includes a talent identification camp, a fan event and a flag football clinic, and underscores the NFL’s commitment to develop more ways to serve its growing fan base across the continent.
With more than 100 players of African descent (born in Africa or first generation born in the U.S.), the League will highlight the contributions of its African players, introduce the sport to the next generation of fans and look to activate in other African countries in the future.
Current NFL players will take part on-site including Seattle Seahawks Uchenna Nwosu (Nigeria), Houston Texans Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Nigeria), Cleveland Browns Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Ghana), and Indianapolis Colts Kwity Paye (Liberia), as well as NFL Legends Mathias Kiwanuka (Uganda), Roman Oben (Cameroon), and Osi Umenyiora (Nigeria).
Okeng is aiming to capitalize on the event to promote Uganda’s American Football through connecting with individuals who can help him do so.