Brilliant blue skies and hundreds of brilliant smiles marked this historic day in Beijing, as the China Arena Football League held their first-ever official invitational tryout and combine.
From 8 am until well past 6 pm, more than 200 Chinese pro football hopefuls were measured, tested, and put through the paces for the chance at a professional contract with the CAFL, which kicks off its inaugural season in October of 2016.
“I can’t say we were surprised by the depth of talent and value we saw today” said Ed Wang, the former NFL offensive tackle and Virginia Tech All-Star. “I have been here in China working with the CAFL for two years now, and our staff had scouted these young men, so we knew we would get some quality players. What does surprise me is the pure size and strength of some of them. It is obvious that they have been training properly and are learning quickly.”
American football is played on the club-level in several major Chinese cities, and the CAFL founded a collegiate arena football program at 6 schools in 2013. Many of those players were on hand for this combine, with another to come on Saturday, April 23 in Shanghai. Ken Bozarth, Director of Football Operations for the CAFL watched as eight American coaches employed the measured testing drills that have become so popular in the US in recent years.
These coaches will lead the original six teams that will compete in season one. Players were divided into two positional categories and tested in two-hour periods.
In the photo below, a lineman hopeful hits the finish line in the 40-yard dash in 4.7 seconds, as several of the US coaches watch intently.
At the end of the session, the coaches huddled together to make quick decisions and cuts. Later, they will bring their personal notes and photos of the players who most impressed them and will begin writing formal scouting reports in preparations for the first-ever CAFL player draft, to be held in June.