You might be surprised to know that China has a full-contact American football league (American Football League of China) and it is growing in popularity every year. I joined the Shanghai Warriors team in 2014, and this year, I dedicated a lot of my time to practicing with and playing with the team. This past weekend, on Saturday, January 16th, we played in the national championship game, and WON 37-30.
The AFLC Story
I played football for eight years in the United States. After it was all over, I never dreamed I’d have the opportunity to play in a full-contact adult league in China some day. The AFLC is becoming more and more organized every year, and this championship game was the best game of American football that’s ever been staged in China.
The AFLC rules are similar to NCAA rules. The biggest difference is that teams must have a minimum of six Chinese players and five foreigners on the field at once. As for the skill level of these teams, it’s a real mixed bag. Some players are total scrubs with little experience on the field; others are former pros or NCAA athletes looking to make a name for themselves in a country where American Football is on the rise. It’s such a rush to line up across the ball from someone who is as skilled as some of these athletes are.
I play offense (RB, WR), defense (LB, CB) and sometimes KR on special teams (#44).
Playing for this team is like being a part of a big family. Going into battle with these guys every week has created a camaraderie that can’t be compared to anything else. It’s hard to describe how good it feels to win a championship with a team of people you’ve worked hard with all year long.
This was the third championship in the AFLC and I anticipate that it’s only going to get bigger and bigger as the years go on. I can’t imagine how much more competitive this league will be ten years from now. We are the pioneers of a new league, and so far, it’s showing signs of growing into something huge.