International students threw on helmets and pads last Friday and experienced the thrill of classic American football in the Dillon Recreational Complex under the instruction of APU’s very own football players and coaches.
The idea for the event, Football 101, came from Graduate Assistant for International Students and Scholars Kari Yahiro, a University of Southern California graduate. Yahiro had heard of USC hosting the event for international students and thought it would be a success at Azusa Pacific as well.
“We have Homecoming coming up and I thought, ‘How do we get international students to want to go to Homecoming?'” Yahiro said. “The have no connection to football, they have no connection to the team, they don’t know what football is, so why would somebody go?”
Yahiro contacted football head coach Victor Santa Cruz for the event and assistant coaches responded with enthusiasm. Several football players also came out to run drills and teach the basics of football to the students.
“Teaching anybody about football, which is honestly the greatest sport on the planet, is a great idea,” said outside receiver coach Justin Riddle. “With us moving to Division II, we want everybody from our alumni to all the international students to be excited about football and to learn more about it.”
International students as well as those from the U.S. attended the event, which was run like a practice. Students rotated through drill stations with several students per group. The drills ranged from working on agility, tackling, blocking, kicking and throwing.
Freshman liberal studies major and Japanese international student Senzo Yajima said his favorite station was the kicking drills and loved learning about the game.
“The International Center invited us and I had nothing to do, but I think it’s so fun here,” Yajima said. “I’ve never known about what is football, but since I came here, I felt like I have to know.”
Riddle said reaching out to international students in any way is important and that they should get involved with other athletic teams as well.
“Any part that they can get involved in besides just being students here at APU I think is important for them, being in a new place and just being acclimated to the school,” said Riddle.
A video advertising the event highlighted the difference in perception of the word “football” worldwide and was featured on the International Center’s Facebook group and also played at International Chapel the week before.
(VIDEO: Football 101 invites international students to learn American football)
About 25 students from more than 15 countries including the Bahamas, Indonesia, India, Belarus, South Korea, Taiwan, Honduras, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, Bolivia and Malaysia attended Football 101.