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Gridiron Football, ‘dream come true’ ‘Kuwait has ability to attain leading position internationally’

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 22, (KUNA): The Gridiron Football or American Football will soon have new fans in Kuwait, but the question is whether it would push over ancient football or soccer played all over the world. The establishment of the Gridiron Football team in Kuwait has always been a dream for Sheikh Mishal Talal Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, Deputy Chairman of the Asian Federation of American Football (AFAF), member of the Rugby and American Football Committee in Kuwait. Sheikh Mishal has been a basketball player and also an enthusiast of American Football. One day, he saw a bunch of young people throwing a ball amongst themselves playing American Football and was tempted to join in and share their hobby.

But, unfortunately, the players lacked experience and knowledge of the rules of the game. This had prompted Sheikh Mishal to think seriously about making their dream of having a place to train and an efficient coach come true. Sheikh Mishal then promised the young Kuwaitis he would work hard to realize their dream. He searched for players and succeeded in collecting 30 athletes to start with. However, those he found wanted to start playing immediately without going through the harsh training, which resulted in their pullout.

What happened next? Sheikh Mishal fought on and managed to arrange for training at Kuwait University’s Stadium, and he invited Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti players to join in. Starting with just four players in the initial training session, the group surprisingly became 100, and later on 400 players. However, seeing and experiencing first-hand the lack of equipment and absence of a coach, the number began to diminish and reached just 70 players in the first team and 45 players in the under-19 category. After that, things finally kicked off the ground and Sheikh Mishal finally managed to obtain international recognition for his Federation as the first internationally-recognized Federation for Gridiron Football in Kuwait, in addition to an American coach from the United States Army.

More assertive than before, Sheikh Mishal now wanted to prove that Kuwait has the ability to attain a leading position internationally. He managed to invite the ‘Neuchatel Knights’ team to play a friendly match as part of the National Team’s preparations for the Asian qualifier game to the IFAF World Cup (Sweden 2015), against South Korea in Seoul on April 12, 2014. The friendly game against the Swiss club will be held January 18, 2014, 6: 30 pm at Kuwait University Stadium - Shuwaikh campus. Sheikh Mishal urged Kuwaiti fans and spectators to come to the stadium and boost the morale of their national team which plays for the first time against a recognized team from Switzerland.

He also thanked the families of the players who have given all support to make this game a success.
He also urged the bodies in charge of sports in Kuwait to support the national team in its bid to prove its worth. Gridiron Football, or North American Football, is a game primarily played in the United States and Canada. The predominant forms of Gridiron Football are American Football and Canadian Football. Gridiron refers to the sport’s characteristic playing field, which is marked with a series of parallel lines resembling a gridiron. Gridiron Football evolved from English rugby and soccer (association football); it differs from soccer chiefly in allowing players to touch, throw, and carry the ball with their hands, and it differs from rugby in allowing each side to control the ball in alternating possessions.

The sport, played with 11 on each side, originated in North America, primarily in the United States, where it eventually became the country’s leading spectator sport. It also developed simultaneously in Canada, where it evolved into a 12-man game, though it never achieved the great popularity and status of ice hockey there. Gridiron Football has not been taken up in the rest of the world to the same degree as other American sports such as basketball and baseball. Since the 1980s, however, primarily through the marketing efforts of the National Football League, teams and leagues have been established in Europe, and the game has achieved a degree of international popularity through television.

The spirit of early football can be glimpsed in the introduction of a rule in 1894 that banned projecting nails or iron plates in shoes and any metal substance on the player’s person. Rules establishing boundaries between permissible and impermissible violence have been continually revised over the years, sometimes in response to periods of heightened concern over deaths and injuries (in the early 1930s as well as the 1890s, for example). Improvements in equipment also provided more safeguards against serious injury. In the 1890s, players’ only protection against blows to the head came from their own long hair and leather nose guards. The first headgear, in 1896, consisted simply of three leather straps. It evolved into close-fitting leather caps with ear flaps.

The suspension helmet, which used straps to create space between the helmet shell and the head of the wearer, was introduced in 1917. However, helmets were not required in college football until 1939 (1943 for the National Football League). Improved equipment sometimes increased rather than curtailed risk to players. To start a game, a coin toss determines which team will kick off the ball to their opponent. Each team lines up on opposite halves of the field, with a minimum ten yards of space between them for the kickoff. At this point, play from scrimmage begins. The team in possession of the ball is on offense, and is given a set amount of time of up to forty seconds, depending on the governing body, during which the teams can set up a play in a huddle and freely substitute players. During that time, offense is to set into formation and remain perfectly still at it for at least one second. The formation requirement does not apply to Canadian football.

At least half the players (seven in standard American and Canadian football) on the offense must line up on the line of scrimmage, including the snapper, who handles the ball before play commences. The rest can and almost always line up behind the line. Neither offense nor defense can cross the line of scrimmage before the play commences. Once formation is set, the snapper snaps the ball to one of the players behind him. The play has now commenced, and the offense’s goal is to continue advancing the ball toward their opponent’s end zone. This can be done either by running with the ball or by a pass unique to gridiron football known as the forward pass.

In a forward pass, a player from behind the line of scrimmage throws the ball to an eligible receiver (another back or the player on either end of the line), who must catch the ball before it touches the ground. The play stops when a player with the ball is tackled to the ground, runs out of the boundaries of the field, or a forward pass hits the ground without being caught. In the last case, the ball returns to the spot it was snapped. At any time, the player with the ball can attempt a backward or lateral pass to any other player in order to keep the ball in play; this is generally rare. A typical play can last between five and twenty seconds, and as a result, the majority of the time in a gridiron football game is eaten up between the plays, when there is little to no on-field action.

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