action from the NFL Flag National Championships

In-game action from the NFL Flag National Championships. Image provided by Ben Lumley Photography.

NFL stars touchdown in Loughborough

  • Major championship held in Loughborough sees Little Ealing Primary School head to Las Vegas
  • Stars on campus include Denver Broncos’ Russell Wilson, New York Giants’ Jamie Gillan, and Houston Texans’ Adebayo Odeleye
  • Event launches NFL Academy partnership between Loughborough University and Loughborough College

A cast of stars from the NFL have descended on campus as the University and Loughborough College kick-started a new partnership with the American football giant.

As part of an exciting new agreement to host the NFL Academy in the region, both the NFL Academy trial day and the NFL Flag National Championships were held during two action-packed days of sport.

The NFL Flag National Championship was attended by a host of NFL icons including NFL Flag ambassador Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Denver Broncos.  

Russell Wilson was joined by the UK’s Efe Obada, the ‘Scottish Hammer’, Inverness-born New York Giants punter Jamie Gillan, Minnesota Vikings K.J. Osborn, Houston Texans players Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and Adedayo Odeleye (a current Loughborough student) and BBC Pundit and former NFL player Jason Bell.  

russell wilson

Denver Broncos' Russell Wilson was in attendance. Image provided by Ben Lumley Photography.

Flag Football, a non-contact version of American Football, is one of the fastest-growing sports in the US and is enjoying a boom across the Atlantic. It is now played by 20,000 children in the UK across 300 primary schools, who have all been competing in year-round nationwide tournaments.

The University also held the NFL Academy’s trial day – three years in the making – which sets out to unearth the next generation of American football talent.

Little Ealing Primary School from West London were crowned champions of the NFL Flag National Championships, winning a tense final 7-6 in overtime against St. Mary’s Hall Stonyhurst from Manchester.

Little Ealing will now claim the ultimate prize – a trip to Las Vegas to represent the UK at the Flag Pro Bowl against other international teams.

The sport is also in contention for inclusion in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and engages people of all ages, genders, and abilities. 

little ealing primary school

‌Little Ealing Primary School will now head to Las Vegas. Image provided by Ben Lumley Photography.

“I am so proud. This is a fantastic event and to see all these young primary school children playing competitive sport and having so much fun is exactly what Loughborough is all about,” Jo Simpson, Commercial and Facilities Director for Loughborough Sport said.

“The key thing for us is getting young people involved in sport, as it changes lives. Whether that be participating, or officiating, there’s lots of opportunities and I think if they see it here on Loughborough campus, that also makes attending university achievable.

“Some of the players who have come – like Russell Wilson– it’s unbelievable. These kids are getting coaching from iconic NFL players who have flown over especially from the US, and they’re here in Loughborough.

“That’s the benefit of events like this – young kids that might not even think about coming to university experience Loughborough and think “I want to be here”.

action from the nfl flag champs

More action from the NFL Flag National Championships. Image provided by Ben Lumley Photography. ‌

From September 2022, all football and academic operations for the NFL Academy will move to Loughborough, where a partnership between the College and the University will provide an opportunity for young players to become part of a world-renowned centre of sporting excellence.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 22/122

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2021 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2023, and 10th in both the Guardian University League Table 2022 and the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.