BY ANDREW MCSTEEN
The 2023 NFL season got underway on Thursday night with the opening clash between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Detroit Lions. One of the teams playing in the 32-team competition are the Washington Commanders, recently purchased by a consortium led by Crystal Palace FC co-owner Josh Harris.
The Commanders open their 2023 campaign against Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, and will be led by defensive end Efe Obada.
Obada, who was born in Nigeria, settled in South London after travelling with relatives from the Netherlands to the UK at the age of 10 and being abandoned and made homeless with his younger sister. With the help of strangers, the pair moved into the care system, before moving to Lambeth where he discovered American Football.
Obada played five games for the Thornton Heath-based London Warriors team where he was scouted by a British coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. The rest is history, with Obada playing in the NFL ever since.
He recently signed a one-year extension to his Washington contract, worth a reported US$3 million and this summer returned to South London to oversee his annual Efe Obada Youth Camp where he took time out to talk about his early days in the region to the South London Press.
“I love Lambeth,” said the 31-year-old. “Obviously, I’ve had my ups and downs with it, but it’s my home, my hometown. It’s my stomping ground. It’s where I grew up, where I gained consciousness. It’s where I went to school. It’s where I come back every offseason for food, family, culture – all of it.”
And the defensive end gave a big smile when asked to give a few secrets away about where he eats when he returns to Lambeth.
“For breakfast, you want to go to Brixton,” he said. “You want to go to San Marino. They do an amazing English breakfast. They’ve also got a spicy panini or spicy wrap – whatever you’re going for. They’ve got coffees, they’ve got smoothies to die for.
“For lunch, no matter where you go, you’ve got to get a cheeky Nando’s. For dinner, there’s a place up in Streatham called Slurp. The best Chinese you’ll ever have. Get the peppered shrimp. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with anything – make sure you also get their Slurp juice.”
Food recommendations aside, Obada will be hungry to make the NFL play-offs and Super Bowl this season, but before then, 17 regular season games are in the way.
Despite the imminent business ahead, he had time to reminisce about his early beginnings of discovering the sport at the Thornton Heath-based Warriors and the fundamental impact they had on him.
“It took me away from the other things in South London that were pulling me in a certain direction,” he explained.
“I loved the brotherhood. I loved the camaraderie and I loved the way I was embraced by the team. I love the fact that it was different. It was something that I wasn’t used to. It gave me a community and, ultimately, it changed my life.”
San Marino Brixton – 413 Brixton Road, SW9 7DG
Nando’s – Various locations around South London
Slurp – 104-106 Streatham High Road, SW16 1BW
Efe was speaking to the South London Press at the recent Efe Obada Youth Camp held at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. The Efe Obada Youth Camp is a partnership with the BIGKID Foundation and the NFL Foundation.
To find out more about the NFL Foundation and its commitment to supporting young people, please visit, https://www.nflfoundationuk.org/. For more information on the BIGKID Foundation and its mission to end social exclusion and youth violence, please visit, https://www.bigkidfoundation.org/.
ALL PICTURES: NFLUK
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