Nordic countries join CFL in global drive to grow gridiron football
TORONTO — The Canadian Football League (CFL) and gridiron football representatives from four Nordic counties have agreed on a broad plan to expand opportunities for players, development for coaches and international business growth, it was announced on Thursday.
“Our discussions here have been as positive as we could have hoped they would be,” said Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League, whose nine professional teams play for the Grey Cup, a trophy first awarded in 1909.
The group, which included representatives from Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, agreed to:
- Ensure top players from their counties participate in the CFL’s National Combine presented by New Era for top Canadian and international prospects this Spring.
- Work to create better pathways for Scandinavian athletes to attend school and play university football in Canada and for Canadian players emerging from U SPORTS and junior football to find opportunities in the Nordic leagues.
- Develop additional coaching exchanges.
- Find ways for doctors and physical therapists on both sides to share knowledge and best practices.
- Seek joint business opportunities in the broadcast, digital and gaming spheres, including potential development of a Nordic edition of the CFL’s popular app game ‘CFL Football Frenzy’.
Gridiron football leaders from Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark unanimously endorsed proposals to strengthen the links that already exist between the game in their countries and Canada.
“There is so much we can do together and learn from one another,” said Lars Carlsen, Athletic Director of the Danish football federation.
Head coach of the national team in his country, Carlsen attended the training camp of the CFL’s BC Lions last year.
“There are opportunities to grow the game across the board,” said Jorgen Benestad-Johansen, Sports Manager of the Norwegian football federation.
Another national team head coach, Benestad-Johansen was a guest of Head Coach Greg Marshall and the Western University Mustangs, a top university club in Canada.
Today’s meeting was also attended by Roope Noronen, President of the Finnish federation; Jari Salonen, CEO of the Finnish federation; Tuomas Heikkinen, Head Coach of the Finnish men’s national team; and Martin Soderberg, acting President of the Swedish federation.
Combined, the federations in the four Nordic counties boast 149 clubs and 10,900 players of various ages playing the brand of football known in North America.
Today’s meeting caps a whirlwind tour of Europe for Ambrosie which also led to agreements with gridiron football federations in Austria and France. They build on similar agreements with football leadership in Germany and Mexico.