BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- China's first-ever Arena Football League is ready to impress spectators as Guangzhou Power take on Qingdao Clipper in the season opener Saturday afternoon, organizers said on Thursday.
Also on Saturday, Dalian Dragon Kings will fight against Shenzhen Naja in a night session at the Beijing LeTv Sports Center, while Beijing Lions is to host the Shanghai Skywalkers on Sunday at the same venue.
Martin Judge, owner of Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, brought the sport to China in 2012 and has promoted it in six of China's sports universities before the CAFL is finally launched.
Judge and his business partner Ron Jaworski, NFL Philadelphia Eagles legend, are optimistic about the sport's prospects in China, where soccer and basketball are far more popular.
"Just think when soccer came to the U.S. years ago. We didn't have soccer. But we (American women's soccer team) have won the World Cup and the Olympics," said Judge. "Now you go to a high school in America. You see kids playing soccer."
"The same thing will happen in China. Just bring the beautiful game to the country," he added.
Originally held only in China's sports universities, the league will be played in the landmark sporting centers of six Chinese cities this year.
The six teams, each representing a city, will play weekend matches first in Beijing, followed by Shanghai, Dalian, Qingdao, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. The winner will be decided in a title game dubbed the "China Bowl" in the first weekend of November at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center.
Judge said there are tremendous marketing and advertisement opportunities in the six host cities with professional squads, adding that he is confident the league will be expanded to at least 22 cities over the next five years.
CAFL is now listed on China Rugby Football Association's annual competition, according to Zhong Guowei, deputy secretary general of CRFA.
"After promotion for years, arena football has wooed China's spectators, especially young people. We hope the league will present more exciting and entertaining games," he said.
A total of 132 US and Chinese players are registered for the competition, 60 of whom are pros from the North American Arena Football League. The Chinese players underwent a total of 20 rounds of tests in Beijing, Shanghai and Philadelphia in order to qualify for play.