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From Nigeria to West Linn to learn football

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO Michael Udeago, center, sits with assistant coach Joe Cerny and Ron Chappell during Udeago’s visit to West Linn. Udeago was shown around the Porland area and also attended the Lions’ football camp last week.

West Linn football coach Ron Chappell has been putting on successful youth football camps for years but never has he had a player travel halfway around the world to attend one.

But that's what 15-year-old Michael Udeago did recently.

Udeago is from Nigeria and while the sport of American football is not exceptionally well-known in his country, he developed an interest in the game.

"There a few Nigerian players in the NFL and they put on a clinic over there and I think that's how it started," West Linn coach Ron Chappell said.

Former West Linn assistant coach Mike Mitchell is now teaching in Nigeria and, when he heard about Udeago's interest in football, he contacted Chappell.

The teenager was planning on making a trip to visit relatives in Chicago this summer and arrangements were made to tack on a trip to Oregon so that he could attend West Linn's football camp.

Udeago flew into Portland on Sunday and stayed with the Chappells, visiting some sights around Portland area and attending the football camp during the day.

Udeago entered the camp as a completely blank slate but was very eager to learn.

"He was really raw. He'd played a little soccer in Nigeria but he picked up the fundamentals pretty quickly," Chappell said.

Udeago primarily learned the positions of wide receiver and linebacker and the other kids attending the camp were eager to show him around and teach him as well.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle that Udeago faced during his time in Oregon was the temperature.

"We were up in the hills in Vernonia and so he was always freezing," Chappell said.

Udeago proved to be an eager learner, asking questions throughout the camp as he tried to pick up on the game's intricacies.

"He said after the camp that football was a lot harder than he thought it would be. He was impressed at the mental challenges in the game," Chappell said.

Udeago was just one of close to 85 participants at West Linn's annual camp.

The camp continues to be a successful summer tradition for the Lions as multiple varsity players and 15 coaches were involved in teaching this year.