Ambition is a two way street at the UK CFL Combine

Ambition is a two way street at the UK CFL Combine
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Ambition. That’s what was driving the players who had been invited to the first UK combine held by the CFL.

That ambition was just as evident however in the representatives of the CFL that were there too. They want to grow the 3 down game. They want to create a global brand, and this is a step in that process.

By Recently adding links in Brazil, the CFL has reached out to partner organizations in 13 countries now.

Ambition lies at the heart of the Global Player initiative

At the end of the day I was privileged enough to have a sit down talk with Greg Dick, Chief Financial Officer & Head of Football Operations with the CFL.

That is when the ambition became clear. He was ebullient about the direction of the Global CFL 2.0 strategy and what it meant for the league.

He was clear – in the long run they would like to see partner organizations playing the 3 Down game too. Something they pitched at the start of the day as the best form of the game. Not that I would argue.

The key point was that this is about growing the CFL game – of course globally, but at home as well. The global strategy should fit with a wider strategy of increasing participation in Canada too. There’s that ambition again.

That ambition also extends to furthering global reach. The NBA succeeded in monopolizing basketball globally thanks to its marketing of stars, the athletic game and its international fan base. The CFL would take a fraction of that success.

U.S. stars like LeBron James, play alongside standouts such as Marc and Pau Gasol, and Manu Ginóbili. The success of these players encourages more “back home” to emulate their heroes. a cycle that CFL ambition would ultimately love to emulate.

David proves to be a Goliath

I traveled to the UK combine in Bristol this past Saturday. A journey that started on a remote rural railway station at 5:52 in the morning and ended with me rolling home at 10 at night. I love the league so I wasn’t missing this first combine on home soil.

The ambition is to have others feeling the same way. BAFA did a great job of organizing the event and all it really needs is some fans on hand to add some atmosphere.

Watching the drills, lifts, leaps etc. one thing was clear. There was great camaraderie here. Yes people have their own ambitions, but they wanted others to succeed too.

Amidst the testosterone there was also a camaraderie between players

At the end of the day we were all huddled into a room overlooking the athletics track to hear if anybody had a pass to Toronto.

There was no sense of surprise in the room when David Izinyon had his name called. The player may have been surprised, but for those of us who had been watching throughout the day it had been an obvious choice. I mean even I with my no recruiting experience could tell he was good…

I am no expert, but even I could see someone was shining out there.

It Ain’t over until it’s over

For the players not picked at the global combines it still might not be over. The league is putting everything on film and handing it to the teams.

Who knows? Perhaps they see something specific that they like for a specific need they have. It’s a longer shot, but it’s still there.

It’s not like there wasn’t plenty of other talent. Take tackle Keanu Banks for example – the Hildesheim Invaders lineman also has an NFL invite, so there’s definitely some talent there.

I feel there’s been a jump in talent this year too. Last year 18 players went to the European Draft. This year the CFL has seen 100’s of players across the continent as well as spreading further afield. They seem to be deliberately raising the standard – ambition in action to see a raising standard.

The Hansen Effect – Ambition to see it spread

Let’s call it the ‘Hansen Effect’ in honour of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Thiadric Hansen. Hansen has a Grey Cup win to his name and Hansen says he wants to be a standard bearer for the global player movement.

Talking to Greg Dick again it was clear the league would love to see that impact replicated in other countries.

Imagine if Izinyan makes it to a CFL roster and contributes. That would be sure to cause a ripple effect back in the UK. People are going to want to emulate it as I am sure those at the German combine look to Hansen now.

The CFL has an eye to that and future marketing too. The names of Efe Obada and Jay Ajayi came up. Not to mention just how much mileage NFLUK has made out of them. The CFL is aware and ambition means they want to do similar things if and when they can.

There will be naysayers but I for one applaud the ambition. From both sides of the Atlantic. Now let’s see how it all plays out…

Banner Image: David Izinyon is all smiles after being invited to Toronto. Image from BAFA twitter.

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