China Daily USA.com Feature: China football league thrilled with debut
- Updated: November 14, 2016
By William Hennelly in New York (China Daily USA)
Any doubts about how Chinese players would adapt to American football were put to rest during the China Arena Football League’s (CAFL) debut season, recently capped off by an exciting championship game.
Ken Bozarth, vice-president of operations for AFL Global, parent of the CAFL, was surprised at how well the Chinese players performed. The league’s six teams were evenly divided between American and Chinese players. Arena football is played indoors with eight players a side.
In the Nov 6 championship game, dubbed the China Bowl, the Beijing Lions defeated the Qingdao Clipper, 35-34, on a field goal on the last play.
Bozarth told China Daily that coaches “came into camp with many questions and concerns (How will we communicate? How will the Chinese players pick up the game?)”. Those uncertainties were “put to rest quicker than they could have imagined”.
“We tested their coaching experience with something they have never had to do,” he said. “They adjusted well and it showed on the field. The improvements the Chinese players made over the six weeks belong to the teachings they received daily from our coaching staff.
“Our US players came into the season with the same questions as coaches. Rooming with Chinese players I believe created a bond and comfort that really helped to speed the process on and off the field,” Bozarth said. “Not only was this a football season, but a cultural exchange program. The players have now formed lifelong friends and know so much more about one another’s culture.
More photos below:
With the official announcement of approval from the China government, the new professional league will be called CAFL (China Arena Football League), and the Beijing based operating company, formerly known as Ganlan Media International, will carry the same name.
“We think this acronym says it all,” said David Niu, the President of AFL Global, the founding corporation based in Conshohocken, PA, USA. “The league, and all of our efforts, are unique to China. We want to highlight the fact that we are playing American-style football, not to be confused with soccer. And we want to emphasize that this is China’s first ever professional league, played by the best players in the world.”
Many of the rosters will feature Chinese players, who have been learning and training for the arena game specifically for over a year, at 6 select Chinese Universities, under the guidance of AFL Global.
CAFL headquarters are located in Beijing, with leadership comprised of senior media executives and sports professionals with an array of government and commercial experience.
For more information please contact the following:
Lou Tilley, VP CAFL Communications and Media
Alvina Alston, CAFL Public Relations