NFL will look for Australian players as part of international push


The NFL is taking its search for young talent to the other side of the world with the planned opening of an academy in Australia later this year and the construction of a high-performance facility set to open in 2026, the league announced, part of a larger effort to expand interest in American football overseas and reach a lofty revenue goal set for 2027.
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Australian Jordan Mailata, an offensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, will be an ambassador for the NFL Academy in Australia.

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Key Takeaways
  • A new NFL Academy, a global initiative to find and train talent for American football, will open in Australia in September to serve the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Student athletes between the ages of 12 and 18 will be eligible to apply for an NFL development program in partnership with the A.B. Paterson College in south-east Queensland, which will provide educational resources for potential players during training.
  • Those players could then be recruited to play college football in the United States or participate in the NFL’s International Player Pathway program, through which extra roster spots are made available to overseas players who are scouted and recruited by individual teams.
  • In addition to the academy for young players, the NFL’s Australian expansion will include a high-performance facility set to open in 2026 on the grounds of the college that will be available for community use.
Surprising Fact

Australian Jordan Mailata, an offensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, was scouted by the league through the International Player Pathway program in 2017 and went on to play in Super Bowl LVII in 2023. Mailata will be an ambassador for the NFL Academy in Australia and will announce the Eagles’ first-round draft pick from the Gold Coast on Thursday.


The Australian academy will be the second from the NFL to open overseas. The first, which opened in 2019, is in the United Kingdom and serves European and African athletes. So far, more than 40 players have received college football scholarships through the program, according to the NFL, including London-born Timi Oke, who will play Division 1 football at Northwestern University this season, and Daniel Akinkunmi, an offensive lineman at the University of Oklahoma.

Key Background

The NFL has been working to expand its overseas reach for the last several years. In December, the league announced São Paulo, Brazil, will host a regular season football game, the first to be held in South America. São Paulo was chosen over Madrid and Rio de Janeiro, but league officials did not rule out future games in those cities.

The NFL has played international games since 2007, and last season several teams played in London and Germany. The league’s efforts to expand fandom to international markets is part of a plan to reach a revenue goal of $25 billion by 2027, a 35% increase over what it made in 2022.

In addition to an additional academy to recruit players, the NFL in 2022 announced the International Home Marketing Areas initiative to give 19 teams the ability to sell merchandise, accept sponsorships and host in-person events in 25 different countries.

What To Watch For

NFL executive vice president Peter O’Reilly told ESPN last year that the NFL could someday play games in Australia, though the 14-hour time change from the East Coast (and 17 hours from the West Coast) has raised practical concerns about American viewership and team travel.

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