CAFL Kicks Off US Football in China Today
- Updated: October 14, 2014
College tournament is big first step
BEIJING – It only makes sense. In order to develop a successful US-style pro football program in China, you are going to need Chinese players at some point. The CAFL’s founders were out in front on that idea. Working together with the CRFA (China Rugby Football Association), the governing sports authority that has approved the CAFL, indoor programs were established at six Chinese universities 18 months ago.
“It’s important to understand that in China, there are universities known as sports universities, where the best athletes are identified at a young age and are selected to study and attend,” explained David Niu, president of the CAFL’s parent group, AFL Global. Niu, a long-time pro rugby player and league executive has traveled the world of sports. “The sheer number of great athletes here has been quite an eye opener. But we were very pleasantly surprised at how many were already interested in US-style full contact football.” Open tryouts were held at the six initial CAFL-associated universities in May of 2013. Lou Tilley, CAFL director of media and President of Lou Tilley Media, is a former NCAA Division-1 linebacker from the US. “I was one of the coaches who helped make the cuts for the first teams, and I was very, very impressed. There were a lot of 6-2, 200 pound types with real good speed. And people ask me, are there enough big guys for the game here? Well look at this picture I took with the Wuhan linemen. I am just shade under 6-3, and about 215 pounds. Does this answer your question?”
Above: CAFL Director of Media Lou Tilley with Wuhan University linemen
Ken Bozarth, Niu and US veteran coaches like Darrick Branch helped to install the first and secondary levels of fundamentals for the Chinese players, as well as their coaches and officials. Bozarth, who looks like he could anchor either side of the interior lines himself, is excited to see how far the teams have come, left to their own devices. “I know this,” said Bozarth, “these kids love the contact, and are ready to get after it. They have been studying the US game on the internet. I’m wondering what they have cooked up!”
On Wednesday, October 14, we’ll begin to find out, as the first of the round robin games are played. There will be two games on each of the first three days, with the seedings and matchups decided at a formal meeting on Monday of tournament week in Beijing.
The champions will be crowned after the final game on Saturday afternoon.
Be sure to check here for full highlights and player profiles, feature and quotes from Beijing throughout the week.