The American Football League of China (AFLC) held its annual league summit recently in Chongqing.
The AFLC, the first and most competitive national American football league of its kind in China, covered several topics through the course of its 2-day summit, focused around an in-depth review of the 2015 season, voting on its 2016 by-laws, and announcements of major developments in the league and a 2016 season plan.
Hui Hu Sports, the Shanghai-based sports management company of the AFLC, announced plans of a membership charter among league teams, and extended applications to 16 of the 18 teams that attended the summit in person and through teleconference. The charter, which formalizes the relationship between the league and member teams, will allow the league, among other things, to engage with larger sponsors and business partners in its continued development and growth as witnessed over the past three years.
Four conferences for 2016
The 2016 season structures the league into four conferences: AFLC EAST, AFLC NORTHEAST, AFLC SOUTH, AFLC WEST. Game play will start in August with a pre-season and 4 game regular season games that will extend until November.
While no inter-division games will take place during the regular season, the playoff structure looks to place the top teams of each division in an 8 seed bracket. The AFLC Championship is slated to be held in mid-January. Hui Hu has opened up a request for proposal to multiple cities to host the Championship game, the largest and most coveted football championship game in China.
Adding six expansion teams
The structure of the schedule has been approved by 10 current and six expansion teams around the country: Beijing Iron Brothers, Canton Apaches, Chengdu Pandaman, Chongqing Centaurs, Chongqing Dockers, Shanghai Fudan Dragoons, Guangzhou Tigers, Hangzhou Generals, Hefei Sarcosuchus, Hong Kong Cobras, Hong Kong Orcas, Hong Kong Warhawks, Shanghai Nighthawks, Shanghai Titans, Shanghai Warriors, and Shenzhen Oilers. The final schedule will be released to the public after specific dates and locations are finalized on Friday, April 22nd.
The annual summit is an event where league and team management listen, debate, and vote on the needs of the league as a collective. After discussions about the bylaws, the rules that govern league and team relationships, each of the 2015 teams voted on proposed amendments regarding the rules and governing documents of the league. In addition, 2016 plans and team benefits were presented and debated.
Newest Member Benefits
One major focus of the summit was on the benefits the league offers to its teams and new developments in growth of the business of the league. The newest league sponsor, Lackpard, has become the official hat sponsor of the AFLC and member teams. Through the league, Lackpard will provide teams with free hats and more to provide to the public. Lackpard has also offered additional playoff collectables and championship series hats. Lackpard has also offered to support teams with online and retail sales of team hats, and share a percentage of profit with teams for sales of their team hats.
Coach and referees clinics a priority
The league also announced its plans to hold football and referee training clinics in each AFLC conference over the summer. Clinics will focus on player, coaching, and referee development among other supportive training for its member teams. Clinics will take place in June and July of this year and feature premier coaches and trainers from within and outside the country.
Regional reps added
The league also announced the creation of a new administrative role, “Regional Representatives” to be leaders of football operations across the country. In an effort to create a higher standard of operations at games, one representative will be assigned to each and every regular and post-season game in the 2016 season as well as assist teams in game day preparation, operations, and the sharing of best practices across all league members.
“We are excited to be able to offer this new resource to our teams for the upcoming season, and see these new positions will have a positive impact on the quality and professionalism of each and every game,” said Hui Hu Sports CEO and league Commissioner Chris McLaurin.
“Sponsorship and professional training are just a few of the ways the AFLC looks to foster its member teams’ growth; we also look to build both a safe and sportsmanlike environment for teams around them.”
The company plans to form partnerships with youth football groups and organizations in hopes of educating younger students of the sport to the excitement of following and one day playing in the AFLC.
AFLC League Goals
While working with the oldest and most prestigious football organizations currently in China, the AFLC aims to maintain its position as the most competitive platform for amateur football in China through both better promotion and more regular player and referee development training.
The league also believes that through challenging teams to commit to a rigorous fall season schedule, each team will be able to develop as organizations and competitive football teams. Several AFLC teams have recently played international scrimmages with Western Australia and Taiwan teams. The league has also begun to outline plans for international exhibitions and scrimmages opened up only to its current member teams in both Dubai and Japan.
The AFLC maintains close conversations with teams concerning their developmental needs and ways to support sustainability through media and sponsorship while providing a broader attraction to its members through a regular season schedule best suited for competitiveness and long travel capacities of each of its members.
As American football’s popularity continues to grow in China, the AFLC strives to be the prime platform for football education and competitive play. In 2016, the league’s biggest season yet, AFLC teams will challenge themselves like never before and chase the title of the best football team in China.