mario williams 1Mario Williams demonstrating a block to football newbies in China, above. Below, Williams at the Danish Cafe in Red Bank last November. (Photo below by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

mario williams 113015redbankgreen received the following dispatch last week from Mario Williams, a Red Bank Regional graduate who’s now spending a semester at Kean University‘s campus in Wenzhou, in southeast China:

My trip in China has been amazing so far, and I still have 3 months in the semester left. I have so many great stories to share. Today was one of my favorites! My name was apparently mentioned in a conversation recently to someone and, from that, I was invited to Jiù Shān Stadium to help run practice for the newly formed Wenzhou Redbucks Football Team.

mario williams 3Chinese students running drills last week. (Click to enlarge)

These are guys who have never played football before, never touched helmets or shoulder pads before and have zero football knowledge. Yet, they have such a love for the sport because they sometimes stream NFL games online and they were ecstatic to be able to suit up and give the game of American football a try for the first time. Even though this is a country were football is pretty much non-existent, I was surprised at the amount of effort put forth from every single player on the team. They all gave 110% effort like they somehow already had a hidden passion for the game that they finally got to showcase.

Even though only 2 of them speak English and I have to communicate through a teammate who translates for me, They are looking to me as a leader because I have enough experience to get them heading in the right direction and get them familiar enough with the game so that when I leave China they can continue to build off the basics that I plan to teach them. These guys are intelligent, physical and show great potential in my eyes. So even though this is day 1 on their journey, I have no doubt in my mind that they will be improving tremendously over the next few weeks and shock some people and themselves! #CoachMario

Williams, who played football and ran track at RBR, graduated in 2014. redbankgreen wrote about his interest in studying in China back in December. Check out that article here.