IN-SPIRE LS Magazine Feature: BeInspired | Chasing Greatness, A Dream Fulfilled
- Updated: December 19, 2016
It was the start to achieving a dream when Maurice “Mo” Woodard received a call from the Elms Horn Fighting Pirates in Germany to play professional football. After falling short during several NFL mini camps, including his hometown team, the Kansas City Chiefs, Woodard would take this opportunity with the Fighting Pirates, still not knowing what his future would hold.
“I never thought about the overseas life,” said Woodard. “I always thought it was NFL, all or nothing,” he continued.
Once in Germany, the then 23 year-old football lover would instantly become a fan favorite and also set the franchise single game receiving record, with 8 receptions for 228 receiving yards.
“After that game, I had more teams in Europe wanting to sign me,” said Woodard.
Europe wouldn’t be the only country looking into Mo for his athletic abilities; the NFL was also making contact, again.
“My mindset was to go play a few games, get some film, and go back to the United States, but after playing and living overseas where the people and culture were so welcoming, I said to myself that this is where I was going to stay and pursue my career,” added the football star.
However, Woodard would still face tough times. After a great first season with the Elms Horn Fighting Pirates, Mo says he signed a Canadian League contract, which was short lived after weeks of camp and preseason.
“At first I was hurt when I was released. You might think it’s a good situation, when really it’s not,” said Woodard.
Finding himself back in Germany, Woodard would use his second season with the Elmshorn Fighting Pirates as a platform to better craft his skills to advance his professional football career. “I loved my time in Elmshorn and signing back for the second season I was really grateful for the opportunity to come back to Germany”. Mo says “Elmshorn’s organization was very family oriented and welcoming that is still like my second family away from home.” Being in Europe gave Mo a global platform for networking with coaches; which lead him to enter the draft with the Chinese Arena Football League. He was drafted to be a wide receiver with the Dalian Dragon Kings.
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