Clint Dolezel Chasing Titles World Wide
- Updated: November 2, 2016
Shanghai, China (November 2, 2016) By Mick Moninghoff
Clint Dolezel, the head coach of the Beijing Lions has put together a five game unbeaten streak and has his team poised to win the first ever China Bowl, emblematic of the title in the China Arena Football League. If you care to take a look back, his winning streak is a little longer.
Dolezel is also the head coach of the Philadelphia Soul in the Arena Football League in the U.S.A. His last loss in that league was on June 17 to the Arizona Rattlers. From that date forward he has not lost a game. The Soul won its next seven games, avenging the loss to Arizona in the league championship game. Then it was on to China. With his five victories here the coach has won 12 straight games.
With his second professional title within reach, just a little less than five months apart, I sat down with the coach to get his take on how he builds a winning team.
MM: What does it take to put together a team that can go undefeated?
CD: “Here it was a little bit of luck. I drafted all of my Chinese players “blind” for the most part. I did not know any of them. I went by size, speed, height and my skill players were able to speak a little English as well. I thought the communication barrier was going to be tough but it was not that bad. Our translator, Jeff Mei, has helped out a ton and obviously good American players go along with that. I know all of those guys for the most part. Plus you have to have a good quarterback and I have two of them.”
MM: It looks like your team is having enjoying this run? How long does it take before it becomes fun?
CD: “It’s always fun, but especially when you see all of the hard work during the season go into a game and then the execution is flawless. That’s the fun part for me. Seeing the players enjoy the fruits of all of the hard work that they have put in.”
MM: Is there a point in a training camp or a season where you turn a corner and then you know you have something special?
CD: “You can figure out pretty fast how good or how easy it might be to win games verses struggling and finding ways to win. You can still win without having all of the right pieces, but it’s just more difficult. In Philadelphia the ownership has given me the reigns to put the right pieces out on the field and finding the nucleus of players that get along off the field. I think that’s a big part of why we have had a lot of success too. You are going to be around each other for about 21 weeks so had better find guys that are going to get along.”
MM: You have only been together in China for about eight weeks so how are they getting along here?
CD: “You know it’s amazing. I keep telling Adam (assistant coach Adam Smith) how lucky we’ve been to have an amazing group of guys. You know it’s easy to say that when you’re winning, but even if we weren’t I would say what bunch of good guys we have. We have eleven American and eleven Chinese players and there is no one that doesn’t like each other. It’s worked out well.”
MM: So it’s been a great learning experience, but what have you learned?
CD: “Patience for one thing, but it’s been pure enjoyment. The amazing part is as a kid growing up, this is not what I was told regarding what China was like. Don’t always judge a book by its cover. Find out for yourself. China is awesome, the people are awesome. I think that’s been my biggest take away from all of this. I’ll remember this more than the stuff I’ve done as a player and a coach in America.”
Dolezel and his Beijing Lions will meet the Qingdao Clipper on Sunday at 3pm in the China Bowl.
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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