The NFL is eager to spread American football to the far corners of the globe.
Against that international backdrop, Ghana native Ziggy Ansah harbors hopes of an NFL presence in Africa.
“I would love to see a game in Africa,” Ansah recently said, via the Detroit Lions‘ official website. “That would be good, and I think there’s a lot of potential back in Africa. I know that one day the NFL will have a game out there just like we do in London.”
Soccer has had a foothold in Africa since late in the 19th century when British imperialism disseminated the game through mission schools, military forces and railways.
Football is quickly growing in popularity, though, with 15 active NFL players boasting ties to Africa.
Nicknamed the “Nigerian Nightmare,” former Kansas City Chiefs power runner Christian Okoye was football’s first great ambassador to Africa, emerging as an inspiration to young African athletes in the late 1980s.
“I think now that there’s a lot of Africans playing this game, I know the young guys coming up have been picking up on the game,” Ansah continued. “When I went there I met a few guys that are eager to learn the game. It’s evolving in Africa.”
In addition to the 15 players currently on NFL rosters, there are at least 35 more with NFL experience and ties to the world’s second-largest continent, per NFL research.
The NFL has no plans for Africa to host a game in the near future. If the interest among Africans continues to expand, however, Ansah’s dreams have a chance to reach fruition within a generation or two.