Christian Okoye grew up in Nigeria and didn’t play football until he was 23 years old. By the time he was 28, he led the NFL in rushing. He thinks there are a lot more African athletes who could do the same, if given the opportunity.
The NFL recently held a talent scouting event in Ghana and is planning to have a permanent presence in Africa to recruit and develop players, and Okoye believes that the NFL could soon find itself with a huge influx of African players.
“When I was trying to bring the NFL to Nigeria, and Africa, I was telling people that Africa is going to be like the Dominican Republic, where you have a bunch of baseball players come from,” Okoye told Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star.
Okoye believes that as more African players make it to the NFL, the sport will become more popular on African television, and that will result in more young people seeing it and aspiring to play it.
“We just have a lot of athletes in Africa that can make it out here,” said Okoye. “You’re going to see more and more. Every year, there’s going to be an increased number of players coming in.”
For the NFL, the investment in talent scouting in Africa could yield very big results.