CAFL – Professional American Indoor Football in China

Indoor Football – Played Outdoors?

BEIJING – As a brand new professional sport in China, the CAFL will do whatever it takes to cross the goal line of success.

This week, in order to grab the attention of China’s 1.4 billion potential new fans, the CAFL is participating in a national sports festival, sponsored by the governmental body whose approval was paramount to the CAFL’s formal approval. The CRFA (China Rugby Football Association) is holding the festival in Beijing all this week and next, with the CAFL’s brand of American football featured from October 15-18. But – there was an audible before any balls were kicked off.

It turns out that the CAFL brand of indoor football must be staged outdoors, at Chayung Stadium. “There are no problems, only solutions,” chuckled AFL Global President David Niu, as he and CAFL Head of Football Operations Ken Bozarth unloaded sandbags and other weighty materials from trucks, to help anchor the sideline barriers and end zone rebound nets that are essential to the CAFL brand of football.

In reality, Niu and Bozarth were ready for the audible. They and their Chinese based team of engineers had already designed and installed the “indoor/outdoor” field systems for use at two of the six Chinese sports universities where the CAFL had founded programs 16 months ago.” In the US, the rebound systems are anchored into the cement floors of the indoor arenas we play in,” said Bozarth,  but outdoors we designed them with a pedestal type base  as they will stand flush against the turf.”  Problem solved. Installing them in Chayung Stadium took some special adjustments (see photo below) but when the teams take the field on October 14, they will play true to the US standards of indoor football –assuming the wind isn’t blowing too hard! 

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The regulation 66 yard long field turf surface (50 yards from goal-line to goal-line, with 8 yard end zones) are true to US dimensions, even in a nation that uses the metric system. That is just one of the educational challenges for the new league. The essential concepts of the scoring system is another, along with concepts US fans take for granted, like with downs (or plays) to earn a new series. 

“Don’t even try to explain pass interference yet … these are all part of the challenges we face here,” says CAFL Founder Marty Judge, who is splitting time between Beijing and his home in the Philadelphia area in order to make his dream a reality.  “We will have public address announcers speaking in both Mandarin and English, who will explain the rules and the development of the games as they go along. We are trying to think of everything.”  The CAFL team even anticipated the need for those sandbags – something in short supply with the explosion of construction all across China.

The CAFL is building, too: a foundation of football in China.

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