Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Global ambassadors for American football

The retired Marshawn Lynch hands off a football to a camper in Brazil.

Todd Buelow via AP

The retired Marshawn Lynch hands off a football to a camper in Brazil.

A spirited brainstorming session over noodles.

Related News/Archive

That's how Breno Giacomini and Gary Barnidge — a couple of ambitious NFL players intent on making a difference beyond the field — and their buddy Ahmed Awadallah came up with their mission to take American football all over the world.

"We kind of just sat down at P.F. Chang's and started talking about what was going to be our next thing to help out the community," Giacomini recalled of that dinner in Kentucky in 2011. "We didn't know sitting at that table that it was going to get this big. Not even close."

The impassioned idea developed into American Football Without Barriers, a nonprofit that educates disadvantaged children in the United States and overseas about the sport.

Next stop: Egypt.

Giacomini, an offensive lineman for the Jets, and Barnidge, a tight end for the Browns, are taking the field in the Middle East this week for AFWB's latest international trip after holding camps in China, Brazil and Turkey the previous three years.

"We want to build from the ground up," Barnidge said. "We want people playing the sport and enjoying it like we do."

Giacomini and Barnidge will be joined at German University in Cairo from today through Saturday by 10 other NFL players, including the recently retired Marshawn Lynch, Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams, Texans offensive lineman Oday Aboushi and Dolphins tight end Jordan Cameron.

In conjunction with the Egyptian Federation of American Football, AFWB will have free camps for players ages 14-25, as well as a coaching clinic led by Giacomini.

"The love of the game is definitely spreading throughout the world," Giacomini said, "and we're trying to be contributors to that wherever we go."

Barnidge and Giacomini were teammates at the University of Louisville, and Awadallah, an engineer at Yums Brand, was their classmate. All three enjoyed community work while in school and decided to take it to the next level when they established themselves in their careers.

Barnidge was the Browns' winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award this season for his work.

"Gary and I will be doing this for a very long time," said Giacomini, 30. "This is part of Plan B after football."

AFWB receives proposals every year from American football federations around the world to have the camp held in their country. Camps are also held in Malden, Mass., where Giacomini was raised, and Middleburg, Fla., where Barnidge is from, and one is being added in Kentucky.

The plan hatched from that initial dinner meeting was to head to Egypt, where Awadallah was born and raised. He had a friend conducting football drills there, but the political turmoil in that country in 2013 steered the group to China instead.

"There's a lot more football in the world than people think," said Giacomini. "In China ... they're up to maybe 15 padded teams. In Brazil, they started on the beach and they're up to like 45 padded teams now. Same thing with Istanbul."

One of AFWB's goals is to get a player on a U.S football scholarship.

"We almost had one kid from China get a D-III (opportunity), but he chose to go to Stanford instead for academics," Giacomini said. "That's like, 'Okay, you win.' "

But there's a humanitarian aspect, too, with visits to orphanages and hospitals while players learn about the cultures they're experiencing.

"All the players are like, 'Man, I just want to keep doing more stuff like this,' " Giacomini said. "If we change one kid's life, we did our job."

Global ambassadors for American football 03/01/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 1, 2016 10:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

  4. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State

    College

    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.
  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.