Yes, it is definitely possible to play American football overseas. However, this is not common knowledge to many players because in general US football is associated all within the United States, hence the international name, American football.
On average, there are around 20,000 senior American football players who compete at the collegiate level each year. It is said that around three to four percent of college football players go on to play at the professional level. However, if you want to continue your football career post college but not at the professional level, there are a plethora of opportunities at both the semi-professional and amateur leagues.
Where Can I Play Football Overseas?
There are American football teams on six continents, with Antarctica having none. A recently updated statistic with the IFAF (International Federation of American Football), there are now 74 countries with active American football teams. Some of the most popular being Germany, Austria, Mexico, and Canada. Broken down by continent and the number of countries with football teams:
- Australia and Oceania: 6
- Africa: 10
- Asia: 12
- America: 17
- Europe: 28
All of these continents have countries with teams playing in the professional, semi-professional, and amateur leagues providing many opportunities for American football players to continue their careers internationally.
How To Get Recruited By An International Football Team
Each country has their own respective recruiting agencies for their leagues. However, there are also different agencies that will help you get recruited on different teams around the globe, ProHunt and the Podyum being two main examples.
Getting recruited to play football overseas is similar to getting recruited in the USA to some level. There are a variety of combines you can attend where coaches will come from all over the world to watch you play, take notes, and decide if they would like to contact you or not. Nonetheless, similar to sports in the USA, when an athlete is trying to get recruited for college or professionally, you can help yourself immensely by reaching out to different programs around the world to put yourself on their radar.
For example, if you are interested in playing for a particular team or club in Germany, take the time to do proper research about the program as a whole, who their coaching staff are, what style of play they have, and the type of players they generally bring into their program. It’s important to do this research not only to be prepared when talking with the coaches, but to also make sure the particular football program is a team culture you would want to be a part of. The team where you choose to play is going to be your home away from home, it’s important to be one hundred percent positive you want to be a part of that club.
How Is The Level Of Play In Other Countries Compared To The USA?
The level of play in countries outside of the United States varies from country to country. Some of the best, most competitive leagues around the world are the Germany GFL, and the Japanese X-League. The recruitment agency Podyum describes these leagues as comparable to NCAA DII in the United States, but as they continue to recruit new players and coaches from the USA and other participating countries, the level of the game is only increasing. In the countries where American football is still new to them (referring to only having teams for around 5 years), the level of play is considerably low as they are still navigating the new venture of American football in their country.
Is Playing American Football Overseas Worth It?
This is a common question, and is only something players can decide for themselves. Often when college seniors are not drafted to the NFL but wish to continue their football careers, playing internationally provides an amazing option to do so. Being able to play overseas also provides athletes who do not want to play in the NFL but want to continue playing football with the opportunity to be paid.
There are many pros and cons to playing American football abroad, as well as there is with any sport being played internationally. You will have the chance to experience living in a new country and being immersed in another culture, an opportunity not many people get to have. However, living far away from home whether it is your first time or you are a seasoned traveler, you can experience homesickness and other things while living far away from your family and friends, and the comfort of your old life. At the end of the day, it is truly the decision of each athlete whether playing abroad is worth it, but more often than not, it is said to be the best experience of your entire life.