The CAFL – Happy Campers!
- Updated: September 23, 2016
Beijing. September 23, 2016 – by Lou Tilley
It’s a football camp unlike any other. Instead of massive players being crammed two to a room into cinder block walled dorm dorms, feet dangling over the ends of student sized beds, the Chinese and foreign based players who arrived for the CAFL’s first camp found upscale comfort in the Doubletree Inn by Hilton in bustling Beijing, China’s capital city.
“It has been great. Better than many of us might have expected.” JJ Ratterink was the speaker. The veteran quarterback, a long time star in the United State’s AFL, was still shaking his head in surprise 2 weeks after the players started checking in to “camp.” “Some of us really wondered what it would be like. Few had been to China. We didn’t know if the beds would be big enough. What kind of food we would eat? Would there be enough?”
Take it from the author, not only is there enough food, but it is terrific. But dont take my word for it. Consider this conversation overhead in the Doubtree’s modern and well-equipped fitness center a night ago. It was a pair of roommates, one from the US, the other from China (the standard pairing in this unique mulit-national experiment based on football.) “Man, I wasn’t sure if I would like any of the food over here. Not only do I like it, I love it! And there is so much of it, its the first camp I’ve ever been to where I am actually gaining weight!”
The Doubletree’s staff and management have gone out of their way to accommodate more then 220 CAFL players, coaches, and staff. Their massive and busy meeting and convention center hosts daily corporate meetings with companies like BMW sharing space in perfect lockstep with the CAFL home base. The meeting center provides excellent space for needed areas for medical treatment, equipment rooms, and NFL-level team meeting and video study rooms complete with theater seating and large screen video systems.
“That has been a huge plus for us” said Beijing Lions head coach Clint Dolezel, who barely had time to celebrate his Philadelphia Soul’s AFL title before flying halfway across the globe to help found the first pro football league in China’s history. “The time we spend in our meeting rooms with tape study and teaching is vital. Most the Chinese players have never seen themselves in action, and need to understand the fundamentals before we line up to play.”
And play they will. The CAFL breaks “camp” when the league kicks off for real in Beijing’s sparkling LeTV arena on October 1. The arena was the site of the Beijing Olympic basketball and gymnastics finals.
For the CAFL, its the start of history.
View more pictures below from the Double Tree in Beijing, China:
For more information, contact Lou Tilley at LTilley@Tilley.TV