ELF: China’s top star Shida Wang signs with Leipzig Kings

The Leipzig Kings of the European League of Football announced the signing of Chinese wide receiver Shida Wang for the 2022 season.

With this, the 33-year-old becomes historic as he is the first player from China to be signed in the ELF:

“I am very proud to represent my country and my sport in the European League of Football. I am thankful for the Kings officials and head coach Fred Armstrong for giving me this opportunity. I will do my best to win games with the team and I am looking forward to meeting the guys in Leipzig.”

The 5’11”, 195-pound native of Wuhan, China had come to terms with the Kings in 2021 but visa issues delayed his arrival. He spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons with his hometown Wuhan Berserkers (a team he co-founded and which ended up on the list of American Football International and Inside Sport Japans Top 225 club teams in the world) in the Chinese National Football League. He was a key in the team’s CNFL championship run, helping them earn their very first title in 2019 and becoming the first non-Shanghai team to win the Chinese title since 2013.

Wang started his career in the American Football League of China (AFCL), which was founded in 2013 before continuing to play in the CNFL. He also starred in the short-lived Chinese Arena Football League which lasted for two seasons (2016-2017). For three years, Wang played college football in Canada for Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

JW Kenton, a veteran coach with 30 years of experience coached Wang in the Chinese Arena Football League (CAFL), and the Chinese National Football League (CNFL) and had this to say about his former star player:

“Shida Wang is one of the toughest, hardest-working players that I have coached. When we selected him in the 2016 CAFL Draft, he was known for his play as a DB. However, we intended for all of our players to learn multiple positions. That summer was a difficult summer for many, but the players that bought into what we were doing really began to shine. He definitely is one of China’s stars in American football. This is a great opportunity for Shida, he understands that his work in Germany will open doors for future Chinese players in the leagues around the world.”

Fred Armstrong, head coach of the Leipzig Kings:

“Shida Wang is an outstanding athlete and very versatile, which makes him extremely valuable for us. He loves challenges and competition.”

American Football International’s Allen Hu asked Wang about signing to play in Europe.

Hu: How were the Kings able to scout and find a player from China?

Wang: At first, it was my friend (and agent) Talib Wise who helped me find a team called the German Knights. But this team (the Knights) quit the ELF this year. Afterward, I found out about the Leipzig Kings. The Coach interviewed me and asked for my film. In the end, I was offered a contract. (“一开始是我的朋友(经纪人)talib wise 帮我找的球队 叫German Knights。但是这个球队今年退出ELF了。后来我自己找到了这个Leipzig Kings。教练interview了我。然后找我要了film。最后就给了我合同”)

Hu: What motivated you to take the harrowing step of leaving the relatively safe nest of China for Europe?

Wang: It has always been my dream to play in a professional league. Even though I have played professionally at home, I have never played a professional game abroad. (“因为打职业联赛一直是自己的梦想 虽然在国内打过职业 但是从来没有在国外打过职业赛”)

Shida himself understands the example he is setting. In a recent interview he gave to a German reporter, Shida spoke about the difference between Europe and China and what he means to his fellow players watching his back:

“There is no doubt that European football is more advanced than Chinese football. There are more teams and real football players in Europe. But American football is getting big in China especially in the last 5 years. We have over 100 teams in China including professional, club, and university teams. We also have youth football programs for the next generation. As the only Chinese player in the ELF this year, I will definitely set a good example for Chinese players who want to play in the higher levels of football.”

The 2022 European League of Football season kicks off on June 4 with the Istanbul Rams clashing with the Cologne Centurions. On June 5, the Frankfurt Galaxy will face the Rhein Fire, the Stuttgart Surge will take on the Barcelona Dragons, the Hamburg Sea Devils will play the Berlin Thunder, the Raiders Tirol and Vienna Vikings will clash and Poland’s Wroclaw Panthers will play host to the Leipzig Kings.  The championship game will take place on September 25th at the Wörthersee Stadium in Klagenfurt, Austria.

With contributions from Allen Hu.

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