Make me your Homepage
left corner left corner
China Daily Website

AFL China set to debut next fall

Updated: 2013-11-09 08:06
By Murray Greig ( China Daily)

When opportunity knocked, Martin Judge didn't just open the door - he tore it off its hinges.

"Timing is everything," the personable 70-year-old said of parlaying his ownership of the Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul into the founding and sponsoring of a six-team AFL China, set to launch next fall.

"Our time is now. China is a great sports nation that is finally ready for football and Chinese fans will fall in love with the excitement of Arena ball. The stadiums are already built, just waiting to be filled. They sit around 10,000 people, which is just perfect for our game."

The first test comes on Sunday when Beijing's Capital Gymnasium plays host to the AFL's East vs West All-Star Game. The three-hour showcase is also airing live on BTV.

Judge and his partners in Ganlan Media International have already invested more than $10 million in AFL China, including providing equipment and hosting camps at six sports universities around the country: Beijing Sports University, Tianjin University of Sport, Hebei Institute of Physical Education, Wuhan Institute of Physical Education, Shandong Sport University and Xi'an Physical Education University.

AFL China set to debut next fall

A second exhibition game is slated for Shanghai next week, and Judge said he expects AFL China to debut next fall with a 10-game schedule. The franchise sites have not been finalized.

"In our first year, each roster will be 30 percent Chinese players," he said. "That will increase to 40 percent in Season 2 and 50 percent in Season 3.

"Ours is a fast, exciting professional sport that I know will appeal to the competitive nature of Chinese athletes, especially young kids coming up. The next big thing on China's sports landscape is going to be Arena Football."

Hot Topics