CAIRO: American football has made it all the way to the Giza Pyramids.
A nonprofit group called American Football Without Barriers brought a slew of current and former NFL players to Egypt this week to promote the game while helping educate disadvantaged children and encourage them to live healthy lifestyles.
The group was founded by New York Jets offensive lineman Breno Giacomini, Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge and Ahmed Awadallah, a friend who was born and raised in Egypt. It has previously held training camps in China, Brazil and Turkey.
“We go to different countries where football is blossoming, and we use it as an opportunity to teach kids football, spread football,” said Browns safety Johnson Bademosi, part of the dozen players in Cairo for the training camp.
“It’s kind of a humanitarian trip as well. We try to give back and try to engage with the community as much as we can.”
The group has visited a school and a children’s cancer hospital, and is holding three days of free camps – basic, junior and advanced levels – for players aged 14-25, as well as a coaching clinic led by Giacomini.
The players also visited the Pyramids, bringing a football with them to toss around.
While soccer is Egypt’s biggest sport, and squash the one it dominates, American football is on the up, the group says, with about 700 players from the Middle East attending the training camp held at German University in Cairo.
Other players on the trip include the recently retired Marshawn Lynch, Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams, Houston Texans offensive lineman Oday Aboushi and Miami Dolphins tight end Jordan Cameron.
“The journey in Egypt means a lot to me,” Aboushi said. “Being Arab myself, being from Palestine, this is an extension of my people, this is my religion for the most part.”
Awadallah, a college classmate of Barnidge and Giacomini and now an engineer, had wanted to take the program to Egypt in 2013, but political problems in the country prevented the visit.