CAFL – Professional American Indoor Football in China

Judge Watches Dream Turn Into Reality

Wuhan, China – “It’s almost scary how much these kids have progressed in just 9 months.” Marty Judge, the US businessman who is leading the first foray of American-style football into China, was standing on the sideline of the practice facility he and his Beijing company, Ganlan Media International (GMI) had designed and installed at Wuhan Sports University. Six major Chinese university teams gathered together in an historic moment — for the first time since signing a cooperative agreement with GMI and AFL China in May 2013.

While Shandong Sports University (with many players drawn from their rugby program) was using an eye-popping series of lateral passes and “hook and ladder” plays to pull away from Tianjin for their 56-28 victory, the founding father of American football in China, Judge — a one-time gridiron warrior himself — noted something even more significant than the young players’ knowledge of what might seem a confusing set of rules and strategies. “They get it! The guys really love the hitting, the contact. You can feel it, and I hear it standing. The referees really have their work cut out for them. I love it!”

Is some ways, it was the answer that no focus group could ever provide. China, a nation focused on non-contact, individual-merit sports, may not only accept, but embrace the world’s ultimate contact/team sport. Marty never had a doubt. It was the reason he began turning a dream into reality just over two years ago.

As the host team, Wuhan, took the field, Judge really lit up. Students and fans began lining the outsides of the arena-style sideline barriers. “Just like in the US!” beamed Marty. “That’s part of the overall experience we want them to see, and feel. And I can tell the guys on the field are noticing too!” Wuhan’s players responded with a 31-0 shutout of Xi’an University.

It got even better. In the third game, Hubei scored on a deceptive pass/run play with 10 seconds left to tie Beijing 35-all.

The university teams’ next step is to formalize plans for a government-approved league, to be called the China Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), with games to be played in the spring and summer months. Soon, US-style professional football will debut in China. The dream, is a reality. It was right there – in front of Marty Judge – with his eyes wide open.

Contact CAFL