On Saturday, November 2nd, the great state of Hawaii will be the setting for the first ever AFL China All Pro Game, kicking off an intercontinental double-header.
For the first time in over ten years, professional football players will gather in the Aloha state to kick off a historical event that will take them halfway around the globe by the time the tour is complete.
“We want to thank the relentless efforts of all our partners in making this Pacific tour a reality,” says David Niu, President of AFL China, the Conshohocken, Pa. based football entertainment company that is staging the two sister games in Honolulu and Beijing, China. “The people of Hawaii, the professional players, the football fans, and of course the government of China, along with our folks on the ground in Beijing (Ganlan Media International), have executed a fantastic coordinated plan that few thought to be possible.”
The celebration kicks off with an Gala in Honolulu on November 2nd. The game itself, featuring the East vs West all pro players is set for 4:00 PT at the Neal Blaisdell Center. A special arena football fan “experience” will be open to the public at the Blaisdell Center beginning at 10am, with live music and entertainment throughout the day.
“There is a great established foundation for football, and especially arena football in Honolulu,” says Russ Francis, the former NFL pro bowler and Super Bowl champion tight end. A Honolulu resident and businessman, Francis is now part of the AFL China team. “Hawaii makes for a natural jumping off point for all those in the Pacific region, where football is fast becoming king.”
AFL China, as the name would indicate, is taking the US-born sport into China, as the tour continues when the visit to Hawaii is done. The entire contingent will fly to Beijing where the first ever American style professional football game will be held at the Capital Indoor Stadium on Sunday, November 10th.
Both games will be seen by national and international TV viewers. Details on the broadcast partners and networks will be forthcoming, but the commentators have been announced. Francis, who has experience as a color analyst for The AFL on ESPN, will be joined by another football legend, running back Rick Watters, who will debut in the booth along veteran broadcaster Lou Tilley, who will be hosting the programs.
“In some ways, it was easier to put the broadcast team together,” said Niu, when asked about the all- pro players who will take the field in Honolulu and Beijing
The full rosters will be announced shortly pending final visa approvals.
The East will be coached by Philadelphia Soul head coach Clint Dolezel, an AFL Hall of Fame quarterback. The West team will be lead by Arizona Rattlers head coach Kevin Guy, who has two AFL Championship rings, with back to back titles in 2012 and 2013 defeating Dolezel’s Philadelphia Soul.
“Yes, I think there a special rivalry here, but obviously a lot of mutual respect as well,” said Dolezel. “I think you will see that reflected in how we get after it in these two games. More than anything we are really excited to show off the exciting fast-paced brand of football to the fans we love in Hawaii, and a new nation of fans we hope to impress in China!”
Look for more announcements and details on player rosters, TV availability, and your chance to join the all stars at www.afl-china.com