In June, the Philadelphia Eagles became the first NFL team to be granted marketing rights in Africa through the NFL's International Home Marketing Areas initiative. To celebrate this, the Eagles sent a delegation which included cheerleaders Gabriela Bren and Taylor Everette to participate in NFL Africa: The Touchdown, a week-long celebration marking the NFL's first official events to take place in Africa. As part of this strategic plan by the NFL to find talented players worldwide, these events included a talent identification camp, a fan event, and a flag football clinic. With more NFL players coming through the international route, including more than 100 of African descent, this program is a step in the right direction in finding easier paths for those international players to find their way into the league.
During the week of events, Gabriela and Taylor were amongst several persons who took part in a panel that allowed those in the audience to ask questions of those surrounding the game. Gabriela and Taylor found this impactful for them and those in attendance. Many of the audience's young people were curious about what it was like being an NFL Cheerleader. Both Gabriela and Taylor were excited to be able to share not only their experiences as cheerleaders, but also their outside professions – Gabriela is a trauma surgical critical care unit nurse and Taylor is pursuing a career as a pediatric physical therapist. Many were not only inspired but surprised to find out both women hold professional careers away from the sideline.
"We had several opportunities to meet with young girls during our time in Ghana," Gabriela said. "We taught them all about what it is to be an NFL Cheerleader, what other careers Taylor and I have outside of cheering, and – most importantly – to believe in yourself and fight for your dreams and goals!"
"Gabriela Bren and Taylor Everette had an integral role in our fan engagement efforts during our first in-person activations in Ghana," said Jen Kavanagh, Senior Vice President of Media and Marketing for the Eagles. "As brand ambassadors, they brought the energy and passion of the Eagles brand to life with this incredible, new fan base."
And what a new fan base it is. The passion for the Eagles will be strong in Ghana and increasing even further throughout the continent of Africa for years to come. During the Flag Football Fest, Gabriela and Taylor interacted with small groups of kids at a time to learn more about each other. Once the festivities commenced, they hosted a dance circle to show off dance styles from different cultures. Gabriela and Taylor also had the opportunity to visit Black Star Square, where they watched the cadets prepare for Ghana's Day of Independence.
"It was truly rewarding because they're all volunteers with jobs and families and have this deep passion and dedication for their country," Taylor said.
After the festival, there was a flag football game where young men and women were able to show their skills against some NFL players, including Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (Nigeria), Texans defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Nigeria), Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Ghana), and Colts defensive end Kwity Paye (Liberia), as well as NFL Legends Mathias Kiwanuka (Uganda), Roman Oben (Cameroon), and Osi Umenyiora (Nigeria).
"The excitement level and talent at the Flag Football Fest was insane! All the kids in attendance had pure talent and growth! It was nothing but smiles on everyone's faces as they tried a new football drill and executed it with determination and passion. They listened so intently to the NFL players whenever they spoke and pushed themselves to an entirely new level," Taylor said.
Gabriela added, "Not only did the participants have a great time during the flag football game, but we were amazed at how naturally gifted these kids were! And to have NFL players working with them who were all originally from Africa definitely gave them a sense of pride. Seeing someone like you from your home country be so successful gave the players and the participants a much deeper sense of connection and appreciation for the initiative as a whole!"
This is truly just the beginning of what will be a wonderful way for the Eagles and the NFL to get more people excited about and involved in the game of football on a global level. Both women stated their love of the country of Ghana at first sight.
"From the moment we landed, the people of Ghana were so welcoming and kind to us," Gabriela said. "Everywhere we went, we were greeted with bright smiles and hospitality. I am grateful for every single opportunity given to me since I have been a Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleader and enjoy sharing my passion for this organization with the best fans in the NFL whether that's here in Philly or all around the world!
"Everywhere I have been there is no doubt that I will run into an Eagles fan and their love for the game and this team is unmatched. I am proud to represent strong young women from our community and show them that with dedication and hard work you can accomplish anything."
Taylor stated, "Representing the Philadelphia Eagles in Ghana was a trip of a lifetime! I will forever be grateful for this opportunity, not only it being the NFL's first official events to take place in Africa through the NFL's International Home Marketing Areas initiative, but by marking our legacy and new family in Ghana. It was so inspiring seeing all of the Eagles jerseys around the country and chatting with fans about great Eagles memories and our upcoming season. Being a global brand ambassador allowed us to bring that same Eagles energy from Philly all the way to Africa."
Eagles Cheerleaders Gabriela and Taylor represented the organization in Ghana.