Nigeria establishing Africa's first football federation

INDIANAPOLIS -- American football will take root in Nigeria on Sunday with the establishment of a national federation, the first in Africa dedicated to the sport.

Four NFL players will be on hand for the announcement: Amobi Okoye and Connor Barwin of the Houston Texans, James Ihedigbo of the New York Jets and Frank Okam of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The players will lead the fourth annual Changing Africa Through Education program run by Okoye's Foundation. The organization also plans to build a college prep school for students who excel at academics and athletics.

Okoye was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States at 12. He was the youngest player selected in an NFL draft -- 19 -- when the Texans picked him in the first round, 10th overall, in 2007.

"Seeing American football played in Nigeria and in other countries in Africa is a dream come true for me," Okoye said. "It will benefit communities and young people by teaching the values of teamwork and dedication, and create opportunities to succeed."

Representatives from the International Federation of American Football and USA Football, the sport's national governing body in the United States, will attend.

During the visit, the IFAF will discuss plans for establishing an African continental federation to govern the game, with its headquarters located in Nigeria. IFAF also has initiated the introduction of the game in Senegal and the Congo.

Some 59 countries spanning five continents have national federations dedicated to football.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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