China: The Diary Of An International Leadership Team

Saturday July, 31st – GLF Clinic, Luwan Stadium, Shanghai

Saturday was the first day of August, and the first day of football in China for the new coaches. However, it was far from the first football in China – the sport has already grown from 3 teams to over 30 in the past 3 years (Reference: chinagridiron.org) with the city host to 3 different teams; the Warriors, Nighthawks & Titans.

In temperatures passing the 110 degree Fahrenheit mark, the GLF organized football clinic opened its doors at the Luwan stadium in central Shanghai, with approximately 80 participants coming from the 3 local Shanghai teams, including several people joining the sport for the first time ever.

Warm ups at GLF Clinic

Despite the soaring temperatures, the team had a full day of coaching in front of them which was focused on teaching fundamentals of the game to rookie and veteran players alike, with emphasis on the passing game. “We are coaching people on basic skills, how to go through coverages, how to set up plays and other similar things” commented Simmons, who continued to say;

“These guys are actually pretty talented! They know football, and they love it, and that makes me even more excited.”

Image 10 – Vladimir Emilier during clinic

Vladimir Emilier during clinic

Through a series of individual drills, talk time with the coaches & combined drills, the participants had the
opportunity to gather as much of their collegiate experience and knowledge as they could.

Darien Briant, who spent much of his time working with the defensive linemen, said;

“They are eager to learn. Some guys are here for their first day and some guys have been playing for a while, but everyone is enjoying it. They really want to learn and get involved.”

With the linebackers, Valdimir Emilien made similar observations;

“They are intrigued and want to learn, and all are very enthusiastic. It is a very competitive atmosphere, but they are all very friendly with each other and there is a mutual respect for each other. All the players are here to compete, to have fun, and to learn football. All three teams (in attendance at the event) are working together towards one goal – to enhance their ability to play football.”

As per the rising trend of popularity of the sport, the new coaches even got their chance to speak in front of camera for a local TV station about their journey.

Image 11 – Darien Briant during clinic

Darien Briant during clinic

Image 12 – Darien coaching Defensive Linemen

Darien coaching Defensive Linemen

Looking towards the next steps of their oriental journey, Vladimir reflected;

“It has been an amazing experience so far. The language barrier is quite different, but I love it – it forces me to indulge myself in a new culture. So far, everything on this trip has been a highlight to me and it was very intriguing to work with the CELAP team at the beginning. Going forward, we will be having very intensive language lessons (around 100 hours) before heading to our host cities to support the teams there. Personally, I am heading to Beijing to work there – I am going to indulge myself in the culture and not be afraid of it.”

Whilst Vladimir will be heading north to the capital, Floyd will be heading west to the mountainous Sichuan province to live and work in Chengdu, a city famous for its panda populations, and the aptly named Pandamen football team will be the recipients of Simmons’ coaching talents.

Meanwhile, Darien will be remaining in Shanghai to work with teams that he has already been able to already meet with, and he remarked;

“The opportunities here (in China and Shanghai) are unbelievable, and I am looking forward to getting past the culture shock in order to start making an impact on people’s lives.”

Image 13 – Darien breaking the huddle at the end

Darien breaking the huddle at the end

The induction week was completed with a series of leadership talks, and even a calligraphy session to indulge the new coaches deeper into the culture.

Image 15 – (left to right) Darien, Vladimir _ Floyd at Calligraphy lessons

Darien, Vladimir & Floyd at Calligraphy lessons (left to right)

In summary, President of GLF – Chris MacLaurin – spoke about the new team;

“I’m really excited for these guys to be in China and to be at the forefront of football’s development in this country, as well as the impressions they are going to make on their communities as of next month. It’s a chance for them to demonstrate the benefits that football (and sport in general) has given them in their personal development, but also to impart those benefits to people here through their work placements and coaching roles, and to help a country working to define the role of athletes in its society. Being able to have a positive impact on someone’s lifelong development is a great honour, and I am looking forward to seeing the results after their year of discovery and self-development.”

Any athletes interested in participating in the GLF fellowship should make contact with the team via the website, which also contains further information on the entire program.

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Allan Price
Allan was the Presenter and Co-Producer of Gridiron TV for 4 years, and also spent 10 years playing football in the UK, both at university & adult level, with 107 combined games in his career (on offense, defense and special teams). Allan is now based in Shanghai and reporting on local & national football development
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