BEIJING, CHINA – A delegation representing the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) met with top Sports Governance Officials, Corporate executives and community leaders, establishing common objectives and a vision for American Football as a part of China’s sports culture.
From April 21 to 24, IFAF President TOMMY WIKING, IFAF Treasurer and USA Football Executive Director SCOTT HALLENBECK, IFAF Senior Vice President and President of the Asian Federation of American Football (AFAF) DR K.K. PARK, and IFAF China Country Administrator NATHAN JONES, visited Beijing, Wuhu, and Shanghai as part of an American Football delegation to promote and develop the sport in China.
The City of Wuhu’s Mayor and members of the Sports Bureau welcomed the delegation and expressed their goals and commitment to establish collegiate American Football teams and convert a portion of the city’s athletic fields into American Football fields this year.
“We are thrilled to be able to come here and show support for the City of Wuhu’s energetic pursuit of integrating Football into grade school and collegiate athletic programs,” said Tommy Wiking. “When a city makes the decision to develop American football locally, IFAF has resources that can be readily applied to help ensure that educational and training programs meet with success.”
Coinciding with the high-level discussions that took place, more than 50 high school and college athletes participated in two days of contact football training at the 30,000-seat Wuhu Olympic Stadium led by coaches from the U.S., UK, and China. The participants enthusiastically practiced drills in a progression based on the youth development system of USA Football and IFAF. By the last training session, students expressed their desire to continue learning and training in hopes of being a part of China’s first collegiate teams.
One of the participating coaches, Chris Moore said: “This was an amazing experience and I am looking forward to more camps like this one. These student athletes just loved the experience, and are as passionate about being a part of this sport as I have seen anywhere in the world.”
Local private investors outlined plans for the establishment of nationwide American Football leagues in China that would eventually serve as the recruiting base for a National Team when China becomes an official IFAF member. This unified platform for competition and organization would be a key step in creating the support mechanisms for new teams to flourish at the youth level up to the semi-professional level.
Chinese business leaders introduced the growing interest of Chinese corporations in becoming supporters of the sports growth in China and beyond that, in supporting international games and exchanges between China and other IFAF member nations.
“The participation and support of investors and business leaders in China is vital to ensuring the long-term growth of the sport here,” said Nathan Jones. “Today, we can proceed with greater confidence that there are partners in both government and business who are prepared to invest in the success of American Football in China.”
Further meetings with NFL China Director RICHARD YOUNG served to move this important relationship forward by communicating on the most important resources needed locally, and widening the scope of cooperation in China.
“We were impressed with how much NFL China has achieved in creating awareness for the sport and engaging China’s youth not only with the sport itself but much of the cultural elements that make Football the number one sport in America,” said Scott Hallenbeck.
Media may contact China country administrator Nathan Jones at:Nathan.firstname.lastname@example.org.