China ready for pro football

Updated: 2016-05-04 10:55

By William Hennelly in New York(China Daily)

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The excitement for American-style professional football in China is building with the release on Tuesday of the schedule for the China Arena Football League's inaugural season.

In Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, the CAFL announced its 2016 "Super Series", kicking off with the first game in Beijing on Oct 1.

The CAFL franchises will be based in Beijing, Shanghai, Dalian (Northeast China's Liaoning province), Qingdao (East China's Shandong province), Guangzhou and Shenzhen (both in South China's Guangdong province).

The original six teams of the CAFL each will host a weekend of play in the Super Series. All teams will play one game each weekend in the series.

AFL Global is the parent company of the CAFL, whose training program began in May 2013 at six Chinese universities. AFL Global was found by Martin E. Judge Jr, whose IT staffing services company, The Judge Group, has been doing business in China for several years. The Arena Football League has operated in the United States since 1987.

"We look at each stop in the Super Series as a weeklong celebration of our sport in each city," Judge said in an April 29 release. "Our entire entourage of players, coaches, officials, cheerleaders and staff will be making history as ambassadors of our great game. This is just the beginning," he said.

Practices will be held in public venues when possible during the week, the CAFL said. Each Friday evening, there will be a banquet to greet community leaders.

On Saturdays, the CAFL Super Series kicks off weekly competition with a CAFL doubleheader. There also will be entertainment and music between the games.

Sundays will feature a "family fun showcase of the sport" and include an interactive fan festival, football expo and a job fair before the final CAFL game of that weekend.

The Super Series tour concludes with playoffs and crowning of the first CAFL champion in "The China Bowl" in Shanghai on the weekend of Nov 5.

Gary Morris, the CEO of the CAFL, based in Beijing, said "we traveled to each city and sought the very best, most modern arenas in order to properly present our great sport, as it is a multimedia presentation of entertainment for the whole family".

"I am thrilled with each of the arenas in which we will present our teams and fan festivals," he said.

The CAFL held open tryouts in Beijing and Shanghai in April.