Diary of a Producer: AFI’s Allan Price on the move with China Arena Football League

Amidst the continuing ramp up of preparation for opening weekend, I left my 2nd hotel after saying goodbye to Peyton Manning and thanking the NFL China team for an amazing weekend on the Legends tour 2016, and returned across town to the CAFL’s temporary home.

There, I walked straight into preparations for the league’s live press conference amidst guests from local & national media as well as fans of the league and all of the organisation’s top heads, including NFL Hall of Fame quarterback (and CAFL supporter) Ron Jaworski, who joined others in welcoming the world to the 2016 season.

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Two days left to make final preparations in the media team – loading up on all the features and videos created from training camp, running through scripts, walkthroughs & assignments for the first week of action.

Opening weekend – the moment we stepped into the LeSports arena was the moment to really visualise the whole weekend and our assignments, and our opportunity to meet the rest of the TV crew that will be moving parallel to us during the season. As is standard for live TV, the production facility was buzzing with activity hours before the first fans caught a glimpse of the fresh CAFL arena turf. Meanwhile, the players had their time to begin their pregame routines – some playing their first ever game in China, other playing their first professional game ever.

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For the live games, I have moved as far away from the production as possible – taking my seat at the top of the stadium behind camera 1, to bring the wide angle game view to fans watching on both the Chinese channel (IQiYi) and the US station (One World Sports). With a combination of US & Chinese on the other end of the headset, I felt that it was time to use some of my experience in China and in football.

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Game 1 – the Guangzhou Power taking on the Qingdao Clipper, in front of an audience of 11,500+. A back & forth game, which Qingdao clinched 38-35 with a defensive stop, that set the tone for a whole weekend of exciting football and dozens of talking points for fans & analysts alike. Our evening game saw the Shenzhen Naja face our week 2 hosts, the Dalian Dragon Kings. A one-sided game ending in the week’s biggest margin, 47-19 to Shenzhen, and a game that will keep the eyes of the fans on both teams for next week (for opposite reasons). The weekend culminated in the home team, the Beijing Lions, warming their house with a game against the Shanghai SkyWalkers – and taking us into our first overtime period in an exhibition of football that all of the organization was hoping to represent to the world.

No sooner had we wrapped the broadcast, we had eyes on the next major phase of the tour – moving this massive convoy of people & equipment across China. Cameras packed, turf rolled up, trucks loaded, and people convoyed to the airport early Monday morning to head east to the coastal city of Dalian – famous for coastal views and industry, and hopefully soon for professional arena football.

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Facing ongoing challenges of bringing bi-lingual live arena football TV games to China, the media team has exited week 1 with a positive and optimistic mind set. There were no disasters, and the problems we faced were all minor issues that ironed out by the end. Our challenge now is to replicate it all again with only one week’s prep time.

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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