Interviews, Comment & Analysis @ch_skysports
NFL UK General Manager Henry Hodgson adds that the Jacksonville Jaguars playing two games in London represents another step forward for the league’s efforts to expand overseas; Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens are also confirmed to be playing in the UK in 2023
Last Updated: 13/05/23 7:12am
The NFL’s international games have grown to represent more than just the on-field action, and that will be amplified when the league showcases the success of girls’ football in London later this year.
Once again three regular season games will be staged in the UK in October as part of the NFL’s continued commitment to expanding its European operation, which will also see two games take place in Germany’s Frankfurt Stadium following last year’s inaugural trip to Munich.
Earlier this year the New York Jets and Chicago Bears teamed up to launch the first ever all-girls’ flag football competition in the UK – the Championship game to which is scheduled to be played on May 22.
The NFL has previously used its international window to give young people the chance to work closely with visiting players in flag football camps as well as hosting flag football games at half-time; those initiatives will continue later this autumn as they demonstrate the growth of the girls’ game along with that of its other pathway and grassroots programmes.
- NFL London: Jackson’s Ravens at Tottenham as Jags make history
- Chiefs to face Lions in NFL season opener | Full 2023 schedule released
“It’s going to be a huge opportunity,” NFL UK General Manager Henry Hodgson told Sky Sports. “What the Jets and Bears have done with their girls’ flag league we’re going to be highlighting during that time period.
“We’re going to be highlighting flag football in general across the UK with all the kids playing, a level above that we’ll have an opportunity for the NFL Academy to hopefully play a game here at Tottenham which would be really exciting.
“We want to show not only the best with the NFL playing in the games, but all levels of football being played in the UK and help people understand that the sport is thriving and incredibly healthy in this market, whether it’s flag or the elite pathway in the Academy or the international players in the league – the Ravens will have David Ojabo who spent a lot of his life in the UK.”
The Bears and Jets-founded league consists of girls aged 12-14 and is made up of 12 teams spread evenly across two conferences.
Its launch came after a Sport England survey of 4,000 children between 11-18 years old had found that 50 per cent of girls did not have the self confidence to play competitive sport, while 45 per cent said they avoided exercise due to feeling self-conscious.
The NFL has sought to not only enhance female participation but also attract more young girls to the London games as fans.
“We’ve seen big growth in that area, certainly the girls football initiatives are newer,” Hodgson added.
“From what I’ve seen of what the Bears and Jets have done it seems to be going really well. We’re looking forward to getting down to their final later in May.
“In general we’re seeing girls and women really enjoy the sport whether it’s playing, watching or engaging in other ways.”
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
Sky Sports’ Neil Reynolds and UK Bears flag football player Majeetah had the honor of announcing the Chicago Bears’ fourth round pick, live from Sky Sports Studios!
This year’s overseas schedule provides an opportunity to watch a pool of the league’s marquee quarterbacks, with whom young fans will have identified while growing up and learning about the sport.
Lamar Jackson is primed for his London debut when he visits with the Baltimore Ravens, while Buffalo Bills MVP contender Josh Allen and Jacksonville Jaguars star Trevor Lawrence will also be in action.
“Lamar is a fantastic player, I love watching him, I’m personally excited about seeing him here,” Hodgson continued. “If you’re looking at the other quarterbacks that will be here: Josh Allen, a top five quarterback probably alongside Lamar; you’ve got Trevor Lawrence playing back-to-back games and he’s top 10 and rising; then in Germany you’ve got Patrick Mahomes and Tua Tagovailoa so there are so many exciting players the fans in Europe will be able to see.
“That’s just the quarterbacks, right? There are star players across the board. We’re spoilt by the quality of athlete we’ll be able to watch.
“The really interesting thing with having three games here and two in Germany is that playing internationally isn’t new and different and scary to them, they’re going to do it several times in their careers.
“Not just them, the Titans have Will Levis and he could be playing, the Colts will be in Germany with a star rookie in Anthony Richardson.
“There will be guys very early in their careers who will get to play internationally and understand they have fans all over the world, that will help us that when you speak to young athletes they don’t just see themselves as star athletes in their home town and home country but as global stars.”
Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player
The NFL has announced their UK match-ups, with the Jacksonville Jaguars set to make history by playing back-to-back regular season games in London.
The Jags have been a willing cornerstone to the NFL’s presence in the UK over the last 15 years, and will make further history by becoming the first side to play two regular season games outside of the US when they feature on back-to-back weeks in London.
Their influence has also been evident outside of the games themselves, with their JagTag initiative having provided children of all sizes and abilities the chance to begin their footballing journey from an early age.
“For us this is a step forward in the UK, but from a Jags perspective it shows the commitment to them growing their fan base and serving the existing fan base they have in the UK,” said Hodgson.
“This is the 10th game they will have played in London and then very swiftly followed by the 11th, if there was any doubt about it it shows the Jags are really committed to the UK as a whole.
“From our standpoint it shows the evolution of the London games, you’ve gone from one game in 2007 growing and growing in terms of the number of games and so this I suppose is the next step in that that we’ve got a team playing back-to-back games.
“And unsurprisingly it’s been the Jags who have been at the forefront of a lot of what we’ve done, changed things and helped us evolve.”
Stay across Sky Sports NFL’s digital and social channels for all the latest offseason news and analysis ahead of the 2023 season.