The child refugee who once found himself homeless in London, Efe Obada’s journey to NFL ahead of World Refugee Day

Former child refugee defensive end Efe Obada appeared in the blossomed in the dust and proved to the NFL world that nothing is impossible for someone who is passionate about football and wants to carve out a place for himself in this enchanted sporting universe and commemorated his refugee journey in the World Refugee Day.

Nigerian-born Obada was a homeless and abandoned child refugee who was trafficked to the UK from the Netherlands at the age of 10 with his sister. The 31-year-old has figured out a place for himself in the NFL despite never having played college football or any other kind of competitive sport.

When is World Refugee Day?

United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention defined a refugee as “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

Secretary-General's message on World Refugee Day | MINURSO

Every year on June 20, the United Nations designates a global holiday called World Refugee Day to honor the fortitude and bravery of those who have been compelled to leave their home country for fear of war or persecution.

Each year, World Refugee Day is observed with the appropriate respect for the refugees and a remarkable theme, additionally, the subject matter for 2023 is “hope away from home.”

Efe Obada’s remarkable path from Nigeria to NFL

The ten-year-old refugee Efe who occasionally shared a room with a family friend while sleeping in an office building and working as a security guard at Grace Foods in Welwyn Garden City probably never imagined that one day he would play in a prestigious league, however in 2014, with the help of a friend, he was able to attend a London Warriors American football practice.

“I am not the only child who has been affected by these situations. These things happen, and are still happening around the world. It’s only because of the position I am in now that I can shed some light on it. The past has made me into the person I am today,” he said in an interview in 2018.

Later the defensive end received a chance to try out for the team days before the match against the Jacksonville Jaguars on the advice of the team’s defensive coordinator Aden Durde, additionally, on April 1, 2015, he signed with them as an undrafted free agent.

Through the new NFL’s International Player Pathway program, Obada received a contract from the Carolina Panthers after spending a brief period with the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons.

“The IPP is amazing. It gives opportunities to people like myself who love football who will make the most of it. I hope my achievements can shine a light on it,” he cited.

Atlanta Falcons sign former London Warriors defensive end Efe Obada as an undrafted free agent | Daily Mail Online

The Nigerian native was released by the Panthers on September 1, 2017, and was later re-signed to the practice squad due to his ineligibility to be promoted to the 53-man roster during the regular season. He seized the chance, becoming the first member of the team to make the 53-man roster, and appeared in his first regular-season game in week three, recording one sack and one interception, earning the title of NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

“I walked into the facility and saw the guy who usually collects people’s iPads [when they are being cut]. If he approaches you, it means you are going to get released. When I finally got past him and into the locker room, people were coming up and congratulating me for making it. But I didn’t believe it until I spoke to the head coach, Ron Rivera, who told me I had made the team. I was the last person in the 53-man roster to believe I had made the 53,” he stated about his excitement.

The former Panthers defensive end spent a year with the Bills before arriving at the Washington Commanders in 2023.

The journey is no less than a drama where the Nigerian native has come out as a real-life hero.

What is your take on Efe Obada and his heroic journey? You can drop your opinion in the comment box.


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Shabiha is a sports content writer for Sportszion. The writer completed her graduation in Management and post-graduation in HRM. Writing is her passion and she has a long career goal in relation to writing.


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