INDIANAPOLIS – USA Football and the Arena Football League (AFL) today announced a multi-year strategic partnership, naming the AFL as an Official National Team Development & Scouting Partner and an Official Football For All® Partner.
USA Football, the sport’s governing body, and the AFL are partnering for the benefit of USA Football’s U.S. National Teams and to grow the game by connecting with new communities and athletes nationwide. The AFL, which held its inaugural season in 1987, is returning to play in 2024 with teams in 16 locations across the country.
“USA Football is excited to celebrate the Arena Football League’s return by announcing a new partnership,” said USA Football CEO SCOTT HALLENBECK. “As an Official National Team Development & Scouting Partner, the AFL will assist USA Football in its role as the sport’s governing body by connecting us with elite athletes who will be considered to represent the United States in international competition. Additionally, USA Football and the AFL will support and promote the game in communities across the country, furthering our mission to lead, grow and strengthen the sport of football for all.”
The AFL recently announced the 16 markets for its return season: Austin, Texas; Boise, Idaho; California; Chicago, Ill.; Colorado; Minnesota; Louisiana; Ohio; Orlando; Fla.; Oregon; Philadelphia, Pa.; St. Louis, Mo.; Tallahassee, Fla.; Tennessee, Washington and West Texas.
“The AFL is extremely proud to partner with USA Football due to the breadth, depth and value the organization provides to the sport of football. Its position as the sport’s governing body in the United States and its status as the only organization in the country that can select elite high-performing athletes for official international competitions, made it clear they were the perfect partner in our venture to move the sport forward to heights never seen,” said AFL Commissioner LEE A. HUTTON III. “We believe strongly in USA Football’s mission to deliver premier educational, developmental and competitive programs to unify and grow the sport we all love.
“The Arena Football League brand has always sat at the peak of indoor football by offering gridiron entertainment, fast action and iron-tough athletes in conjunction with family fun fan experiences that uniquely engage the football enthusiast. Adding partners like USA Football helps strengthen our league as we are proud to announce, “We are back!’”
As the governing body of American football in the United States, the sole U.S. member of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), and a recognized sports organization of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, USA Football is the only organization that selects and organizes men’s and women’s U.S. National Teams in federation-sanctioned international competition.
Through the U.S. National Team Pathway, USA Football identifies the best athletes across men’s and women’s tackle and flag football to represent the U.S. against improving international competition at events sanctioned by IFAF, the international governing body for the sport of American football that is provisionally recognized by the International Olympic Committee.
“The competitive landscape surrounding international football continues to grow and evolve, and USA Football’s U.S. National Team program will do the same alongside it,” said USA Football Managing Director of High Performance and National Teams ERIC MAYES. “I am excited to partner with the AFL to maximize our collective elite athlete development and talent identification efforts. The partnership between our organizations allows for the continued expansion of competitive opportunities for our athletes.”
In July, USA Football’s Men’s and Women’s Flag Football National Teams emerged from a field of 13 teams from seven different countries to take gold medals at the IFAF Americas Championships in Charlotte, N.C.
“I have spent more than 15 years training elite athletes to perform on the largest stages in sports. I’m excited to elevate the AFL’s brand and increase opportunities for athletes to play the sport we all love,” said AFL Deputy Commissioner and President of Player Development TRAVELLE GAINES. “Partnering with USA Football to develop athletes for U.S. National Team consideration and international competitions presents a unique opportunity as the sport continues its exponential growth abroad.”
In addition to grassroots community events and national team development, the AFL will also provide exclusive events and ticket discounts to USA Football Member coaches and athletes.
Some of the most well-known names to play in the AFL previously include Oronde Gadsden, Tony Graziani, Tommy Maddox, Kurt Warner, and Mike Vanderjagt. Former or current NFL head coaches Jay Gruden, Matt Nagy and Sean Payton were quarterbacks in the AFL.
About USA Football: USA Football is the governing body of American football in the United States, the sole US member of the International Federation of American Football, and a recognized sports organization of the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Its non-profit mission includes designing and delivering premier educational, development, and competitive programs for American football, including tackle and flag football. USA Football is the only organization that selects and organizes men’s and women’s US National Teams in federation-sanctioned international competition.