Stage Set For Tiger Bowl playoffs in Korea

This weekend, the 56 year old Korean American Football Association is holding its quarterfinals playoff games for the  Korean University American football championships. The winners move on to the semifinals next weekend with the 21st Tiger Bowl championship game scheduled for November 21.

A total of four teams are entered from the city of Busan. They will join the top two teams from Seoul and the top two from Daegu (the three cities in the country which have men’s university football). All eight teams will compete in a quarterfinal and semifinal playoff round to determine the two finalists for the Tiger Bowl.

Berths in the tournament are based on the previous year’s results. The number of teams each city can send depends on the finalists from the year before. Last year, two Busan teams made it through to the Tiger Bowl, so they are able to send four teams this year.

Busan Dominance

There is a reason for the dominance of the Busan teams over the past two decades. In fact is is fairly simple. Practice. Since geographically and culturally, Busan is located much closer to Japan, Japanese American football coaches have had a great deal of influence on the development of the game there. One key element is that the Busan teams practice five times a week, much more than anywhere else in the country, including Seoul.

Korea - KAFA - Dongseo university (blue) vs Dongeui university

Dongseo University (blue) vs Dongeui University (2014)

Indeed, a Busan team has won three of the last four championships, the only blemish in 2012 when Hanyang University from Seoul upset a Dongseo team.

As a result, in the 2015 IFAF World Championships,  the Korean national team consisted mostly of players from Busan. Nevertheless, the Korean University squad coached by Canadian Lawrence Bowlby could be in the mix this year.

“We had a good offseason, beginning with a lot of work in the weight room to prepare for our international friendly against the Pilipinas Aguilas last February ,which was a great start to our spring training. We have gotten our new players up to speed, and they put in a lot of work in the summer. I am confident they will see their hard work pay off, and we will make that next step this year in the tournament.”

Korea University has in fact entered the tournament every year for the past five years but has never managed to advance past the semifinals. This year may see a change.

The quarterfinals take place November 7.

Seochang Stadium

Busan National University v. Kyungbook University 11 AM

Korea - KAFA logos 2pic

Korea University v. Shilla University 2 PM

Korea - KAFA 2pic logos-1

Dongeui University Stadium

Dongseo University v. Sungkyunkwan University 11 AM

Korea - KAFA 2pic logos-2

Yeonnam University v. Dongeui University 2 PM

Korea - KAFA 2pic logos-3

Korea - KAFA 2015 brackets

Interesting facts

Korea - Bo Sung Park

Bo Sung Park

The Korean national team wide receiver Sanghoon Kim who caught the touchdown pass in Korea’s second game vs Australia in the 2015 World Championships in Canton Ohio,  was a senior for the 2014 champion Dongeui. The Korean national team quarterback, Taehoon Kim, was also a graduate from Dongeui University. His team lost the Tiger Bowl in 2011 to Busan National.

The current Busan National University quarterback was the second string tailback for the National team in Canton.



Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.