Middle Kingdom’s Newest Dynasty: Meet the American Football League of China

American Football League of China Kicks Off 2014 Campaign

 

Over six thousands miles from the nearest NFL game, the American Football League of China started this past weekend. Now with three divisions and six games played between Saturday and Sunday, you can sense the momentum American Football is having in China.

Let’s learn a bit a the beginning of the phenomenon, and then check out this past week’s scores.

Shanghai Nighthawks v. Shanghai Titans

The Birth of a Sport

The history of America Football in China can be traced to one day in particular 27th September 2011, the first official game sponsored by NFL China took place and the pictures and videos about this event took over  the social media sites as Sina Weibo (one of the Chinese versions of Twitter) and RenRen. Before this there were some other special moments but that day was when you could say the story began.

Those days, Beijing had the first and only fully equipped team in China, the Beijing Guardians. And being the only team had its disadvantages: there was no-one else to play beside scrimmages among the same team. At the same time in Shanghai, a group of Chinese and expat football lovers were playing touch football every weekend in downtown Shanghai. These games were mostly for fun and with the spirit of enjoying a good afternoon of American football among friends.

Insert NFL China, the NFL’s only Asian outpost. They approached one of the players and asked them about the possibility of organizing the first tackle game among adults at the NFL Experience, a day of American football centered events organized by the NFL, and held on November 27, 2011 in Shanghai, China. The local players immediately jumped onboard and a new team was born, the first in Shanghai, the Shanghai Nighthawks.

NFL Experience: Beijing Guardians v. Shanghai Nighthawks

After the first game where the Nighthawks defeated the Beijing Guardians the football fever took off, more and more teams started to appear. At the end of 2011 there were just the two teams, the Guardians and Nighthawks, today there are over 30 teams across the national territory.

 

The level of progress and development differs from one city to the next. The players are not professionals, but the energy is high and love for this game is strong. Hopefully,  China will soon join its international counterparts in international competitions, most notably the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) American Football international governing body.

Unfortunately, it is too late to qualify for next summer’s 2015 IFAF World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden; the national teams from South Korea and Japan will be representing Asia in the tournament. However, it will not be long before the China is competing on the world stage.

American Football League of China

AFI.China.2

This weekend had the first look of this 2014 season with the following results:

To learn more about each team follow the links to Facebook!

North Division

Wuxi Tritons 12-0 Beijing Cyclones

Chongqing Dockers 36-20 Chengdu Mustangs

East Division

Shanghai Nighthawks 44-12 Hangzhou Ospreys (check out photos HERE!)

Shanghai Warriors 25-14 Shanghai Titans

South Division

Guangzhou Goats 0-9 Hong Kong Cobras

Guangzhou Apaches 7-18 Hong Kong Warhawks

Learn more about the American Football League of China here on Facebook!

Hong Kong Cobras

Alejandro Cáceres
Alejandro is a PhD student for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) conducting a study about Education for Sustainable development at Tongji University. He plays for the Shanghai Nighthawks and the Tongji Strikers. He was born in Ecuador and now lives in Shanghai, China.
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