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Efe Obada and Clyde Edwards-Helaire joined by NFL stars to inspire local London school kids

Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire says it was "surreal" to introduce himself as a Super Bowl champion as he joined Efe Obada and other NFL stars in leading school students in a Flag Football session at Gladesmore Community School in Tottenham.

Efe Obada
Image: Efe Obada pictured at Gladesmore Community School

Efe Obada breaks into laughter as one child nabs and parades his watch to the joy of fellow students, Gabe Davis performs the Griddy dance with another pupil, Kevin Byard fields sneaker requests from a group of Jordan-wearing girls and Clyde Edwards-Helaire frantically evades flailing arms in a game of Flag Football.

The NFL smiles collectively.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Jamel Dean, New England Patriots' Josh Uche and Dallas Cowboys' Michael Gallup were also in attendance on Friday to lead a flag session at Tottenham's Gladesmore Community School on a visit to HR Sports Academy, part of the Model City London initiative supported by Laureus Sport for Good - which aims to use sport to help young people overcome violence, discrimination and inequality - along with the Mayor of London and Nike.

It encapsulated what the league has long-envisioned with regards to its international expansion, balancing the showpiece glitz of its sell-out London games with local initiatives and engagement.

"I've been playing football for a while but for me personally the community aspect in my journey has always been the most fulfilling," Washington Commanders defensive end Obada told Sky Sports.

"To be able to come back, to interact and engage with kids, to show them a different lifestyle and sport and engage is amazing."

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NFL star Efe Obada looks ahead to the Washington Commanders' 2023 season and shares his Nando's order when back home in the UK.

Obada, who grew up in London after being trafficked to England from Nigeria at the age of 10, has positioned himself as a willing flag-bearer for NFL-led community efforts, serving as a worthy ambassador for the NFL Academy while continuing to dedicate chunks of his annual offseason return to the UK to helping grow the sport.

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"This is rare, it never happened," Obada added. "Never in my life in school or college did I experience something like this. Even in soccer I never experienced it, I can't say soccer because people will be mad at me - European football!

"To be in this position and have this platform to do that is amazing. Part of me loves the fact these kids aren't exposed to the sport, because it's new for them and you get a different side of them. They're learning new skills and I feel like that's just beautiful.

"I'm home, I'm in London, they hear the accent and their eyes go wide and they're like 'hang on, this is American Football, he's English, what's going on?', they see my watch and want my watch!

"It (football) is becoming a huge part of the English culture. The other day I got recognised in Tesco and Sainsbury's! They call me the NFL guy but hopefully in time they'll know my name!"

Efe Obada
Image: Obada leads the pre-game team talk

Kansas City Chiefs running back Edwards-Helaire notes how he and his fiancé spent Thursday night taking a stroll to see Big Ben, while Buffalo Bills receiver Davis highlights London's famous clock tower as a key feature on his to-do list as they explore the city this weekend.

"This is literally what I feel like I've worked all my whole life so," Edwards-Helaire told Sky Sports. "It's always those things where you want to play professional ball and provide for your family but it's different when those opportunities bring you into situations like this where we're trying to spread American football internationally, but also bring smiles to faces."

Michael Gallup and Clyde Edwards-Helaire pictured with school kids at Gladesmore Community School
Image: Michael Gallup and Clyde Edwards-Helaire pictured with school kids at Gladesmore Community School

For Edwards-Helaire, the visit serves as a welcome component to his career success thus far, which enabled him to introduce himself as a Super Bowl champion on Friday following February's victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

"It's a surreal thing, being able to have those words in front of your name is literally something people dream of," he adds.

"A lot of hard work that goes into it, so being able to happily introduce myself as a Super Bowl champion is something I've always wanted to do."

The trip to the UK follows up that of Frankfurt in allowing players to experience European culture, with Davis' Bills and Byard's Tennessee Titans scheduled to play in London later this year while Edwards-Helaire's Chiefs and Uche's Patriots head to Germany.

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Clyde Edwards-Helaire said it's a surreal feeling being a Super Bowl champion and was full of praise for his quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

As far as local cuisine is concerned, Obada is happy to lead the way with recommendations.

"I will always recommend Nando's, it's always my favourite go-to, my bulking place," he laughs.

"Whole chicken platter, chips, rice, garlic bread, corn, salad, halloumi sticks, peri-peri sauce, peri-tamer, it needs to be hot, anything below medium is questionable, we need to have words. I like it extra hot, and then if I want to keep it healthy I stay away from the sodas.

"As long as I perform on the field coach doesn't mind!"

'Catch me if you can!'
Image: 'Catch me if you can!'

Obada is currently gearing up for his sixth season in the NFL after signing a new one-year deal with the Commanders in March, continuing a career that began less than a decade ago when he first began playing football with the London Warriors in 2014.

It was the latest self-reminder of how far he has come.

"Honestly it does, my draft class was 2015 I think, I've seen guys come and go, it's just the nature of the league," he explained.

"Every year I'm able to be on the team and get the opportunities to be on that stage doing something I love, and then getting the opportunity to be in these situations, motivating kids, using my voice to inspire and educate, it's an amazing achievement.

"I think last year we fell a little short as a team, I'm excited for this year. We have a quarterback finally, we have a great receiving core, our defense, our d-line are monsters, we've got Chase Young back, I'm excited to see what he brings to the table.

"It's gone by so quickly, at one point I was learning the game, I was a young guy, bright-eyed and now I'm a vet in the team. It's nice to see that switch."

Obada gets involved in a game of Flag Football at Gladesmore Community School
Image: Obada gets involved in a game of Flag Football at Gladesmore Community School

He may be a veteran member of the locker room, but he has no plans to slow down.

"It does make me feel old but my body is young! I haven't got the knocks from high-school or college that some of these guys have," he says.

"I've got a very young body, old in age but young at heart, young in spirit, young in everything else. So next contract, pay me, because I'm young!"

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