Hot on the heels of the formation of Beijing's first ever pro hockey team comes news that come October, Beijing will be home to its first-ever professional Arena Football team, the Beijing Lions, who will take on the Shanghai Skywalkers in its inaugural match.

The teams are two of the six that make up the brand-new China American Football League (CAFL), a joint effort between the American Arena Football League and a local partner.

Arena Football is a version of the popular American sport that others around the world might refer to as gridiron. The arena version of the sport is played indoors on a smaller field and usually features higher-scoring matches.

The China teams were formed earlier this month via draft, and each feature 22 players: 11 foreign and 11 local talents.

The six-team league also includes the Dalian Dragon Kings, the Guangzhou Power, the Qingdao Clipper, and the Shenzhen Naja.

According to the nascent league's website, most of the foreign players were drafted from the AFL. Twenty of the 60 foreign players drafted were from the Philadelphia Soul, most likely as a result of current Soul coach Clint Dolezel coming over to coach the Beijing Lions.

Beijing's LeSports Arena in Wukesong will host the league's first three games on Oct 1-2, with matches as follows:

Oct 1, 2pm: Guangzhou vs Qingdao
Oct 1, 7pm: Dalian vs Shenzhen
Oct 2, 3pm: Beijing vs Shanghai

Tickets for the matches will be on sale soon and will range from RMB 50 to RMB 300. The RMB 300 tickets will also include a tailgate party and a meet-and-greet session with the players (however, those expecting an American-style tailgate will note that alcoholic beverages will not be retailed on site).

While the new league is not chock full of household names, more than a few have a great pedigree. Derek Stingley, the son of legendary New England Patriot star Darryl Stingley, will be coaching the Shanghai team.

According to Ed Wang, the VP of League Development, projected stars for the new league include his brother David Wang, who played at Virginia Tech and is a veteran of the AFL. Wang, who will be playing both offensive and defensive line, was the #1 draft pick of the CAFL and was selected by the Guangzhou Power.

Local talent Wang Lei, selected #6 by the Shanghai Skywalkers, is another that the league expects big things from. Wang has honed his skills in the college league at Wuhan Sports University for the past three years.

As for the Beijing team, Wang says Zhang Xiaozha is a standout. "He has the potential to be one of the biggest threats in our league," said Wang. "He's a local Beijinger and will be playing wide receiver and on special teams, with a little defense mixed in there ... he's raw but has definitely has the tools to become a superstar."

Check for tickets to go online soon at the league's official website (in Chinese here and in English here).

Image: CAFL


Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog