First things first before we dive into this article. Start running the song “Thunderstruck” by ACDC in your head and put that track on repeat as you read. Is it playing yet? Alright good. Let’s begin.
Taiwan American Flag Football Association (TAFFA)
The history of the Gridiron Kings began roughly 5 years ago when a group of expats and Taiwanese locals decided to start up a flag football league. At its peak, TAFFA had roughly 9 teams, each with about 14-15 players. Quite the competition! However, due to 1/3 of the league’s players either moving back home, changing social priorities or interests, the league started to lose its “je ne sais quoi.”
The Taiwanese Gridiron Renaissance of the 21st Century
Thanks to Ken Hsu and Donny Gilliland, the men of Taipei are able to continue their path of enlightenment via the pig skin! These two men helped rekindle the desire in others to relive the glory days of playing football in high school, college, intramurals and even in the rough ‘n’ tough backyard. The first season of Gridiron Kings Flag Football was in November 2012 with only 5 teams. Now, in its 3rd season (2-3 seasons per year), the league has acquired more popularity and as a result, has 6 teams to date.
The teams consist of players with a varying amount of experience in football. Believe it or not, some of the players have never even thrown a football in their entire lives! But after a few hours of playing some catch in the park, it was only a matter of time until they became thirsty to compete. “The enthusiasm matters. Teams are coming out to play catch and then decide to make their own team. Skill is important, but the commradery and enthusiasm is what drives the league,” states Hsu.
I Want to Hear More
Good, because it only gets better! The league continually keeps track of stats and takes professional photos every Sunday. They also post it all on their Facebook page so there is something tangible for players and spectators to track accomplishments. So after a hard day’s work on the gridiron, you can look at the statistic/standings charts and photos and say to yourself, “I DID something. I made an IMPACT on a TEAM.”
Game Set Up
Here’s the deal, it’s 7 (offense) vs. 7 (defense). Since it’s flag football, there is no tackling/holding. Once the person with possession of the ball has his flag pulled, the ball is dead at the spot. There is no holding on either side of the ball. A 35-second play clock. Two 25-minute halves. One 15-minute half time. Each team has 2 time-outs per game. The field is split into halves. For each half of the field, the team has 4 downs (chances) to make it to the first down/touchdown marker. An extra point can be scored after a touchdown.
Three games are played every Sunday in a season. A typical season lasts 9 weeks and there are roughly 2-3 seasons per year. The summer is an off-season because it’s too hot and humid. Expect seasons from September to December, November to January, and March to May.
There are tons of avenues in Taipei in which you can compete. But there is only one place where you can play flag football in Taipei to relive your high school or college football years. Play with the Gridiron Kings! Check out their Facebook page and get in touch with one of the ring leaders of the league: Ken Hsu (email@example.com) and John Aurentz (firstname.lastname@example.org). Games are played on Sundays at YingFeng Park which is just across the bridge from the Dazhi MRT station. FYI, bring your spikes! Oh, and I almost forgot… you can turn off Thunderstruck.