Six-Shooters – China’s First Coaches Set for Action
- Updated: June 1, 2016
Conshohocken, Pa (June 1, 2016)
China’s first professional football coaches all hail from – the United States of America.
“It makes sense, when you think about it. After all, the game was first played here, refined here, and the US continues to be the hub of football even as it spreads across the planet” said Clint Dolezel, who will coach the Beijing Lions, and will serve as the host coach when the Super Series Tour kicks off the new league on the weekend of October 1.
Dolezel is currently driving the Philadelphia Soul of the US Arena Football League towards another trip to a championship game this summer. The tall Texan, already an AFL Hall of Fame player as a record setting quarterback, is no stranger to China, or Beijing. He coached in China’s first ever professional football game when the CAFL hosted an All-Star game in the nation’s capital in November of 2013.
Joining Dolezel as head coaches in China will be two of his former assistants. Derek Stingley and Rod Miller have served on his Soul staff, and a third, Ernesto Purnsly was a Soul assistant before Dolezel arrived in Philly. Add world travelers Terry Bates and J.W. Kenton and you have the new founding fathers of football in China.
Stingley is a famous name in US football circles. Derek was just 7 years old when his father Daryl, a wide receiver for the New England Patriots, was hit by Jack Tatum and left paralyzed in 1973. It never stopped the son, who has been an outspoken proponent for the sport. Derek was the Soul defensive coordinator in a 15-3 2015 campaign after serving as an AFL head coach in Pittsburgh and New Orleans. This after trying his hand at pro baseball after the shortstop was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies. Stingley will coach the Shanghai Skywalkers in the Fall.
The new head coach of the Qingdao Clipper, Rod Miller previously served on the Soul staff in Philadelphia, and is credited with shaping their secondary into the best in arena ball, crucial in the pass-happy indoor game. Many of his All-Arena League protégés have registered for the upcoming CAFL draft. Stars like Rayshaun Kizer, James Romaine, Kent Richardson, Lerico Stevenson and Dwayne Hollis are almost certainly on Miller’s draft board.
Ernesto Purnsley will bring a wealth of experience on both sides of the ball to his new team, the Guangzhou Power. For a relativity young man, Purnsley has criss crossed the US with 11 professional coaching stops in the AFL, including a championship with John Elway’s Colorado Crush in 2005, as well as 6 major college coaching stops, after 2 years as a starting quarterback for Catawba College in North Carolina. Purnsley has, quite literally, coached every postilion in football, and as such is a great fit for a job that will require much teaching in the early yards, as the CAFL rosters will be filled with Chinese players, new to the game.
And that brings us to the globe-trotting Terry Bates, who coach the Dalian Dragons. Recent years have seen Bates criss-cross the Middle East and Europe implementing US-style football programs in Egypt, Italy, Spain, and Germany. This after 5 stops in the US that included the unlikely football “hotbed” of Anchorage, Alaska. “I will be looking for players who have traveled a similar route. Players who have played in Europe, where their job was more like a player-coach. They will better understand the challenge of competing with the Chinese players, but at the same time the need to take extra time to teach and instruct each and every day.”
J. W. Kenton is a 2003 graduate of the University of Florida, and has been coaching in the Gator state on the high school level for the last 5 years since leaving a huge imprint in Hawaii. As the head coach of King Kekaulike High School from 2005-2009, Kenton led the team to the state championship. A businessman as well, the new coach of the Shenzhen Naja began his career in the marketing department for the Hula Bowl.
Six men, six teams, six different approaches to the beginnings of pro football in China. The CAFL began seeding he new league when it held open tryouts and combines in mainland China in April. Most of the new coaches attended in person, or sent assistants, and are ready to draft players from China, the US, Europe, the Pacific rim and more, when the CAFL draft is held on June 10.