Shooting for success

Updated: 2015-10-16 08:15

By Sun Xiaochen(China Daily Europe)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Shooting for success

From left: Bobby Houghton, who coached the Chinese national team for two years in the late 1990s; the Manchester United crest; and rightback Sun Jihai with then-Manchester City manager Kevin Keegan. Xinhua / Agencies

"It's important for me to be able to educate the children to go into one of the greatest sports in the world," the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy midfielder said at the time. "I know how important the youth system is and I did a lot of work (on youth training) in Europe and America. Hopefully I can do it here as well."

After ending his ambassadorial role, Beckham has continued to be involved with Chinese soccer. A fund he launched with China Soong Ching Ling Foundation last year has helped upgrade soccer facilities at several schools in underdeveloped areas, particularly in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

"His star power and the fund will attract more attention to Xinjiang football and will help improve the conditions here for children," says Abulahet Amulism, director of the region's soccer administrative center.

One goal in the government's reform plan is to increase the number of schools nationwide offering specialised football programs from the current 5,000 to 50,000 within the next 15 years.

British companies have also seen the potential in Chinese soccer and have attempted to establish a presence in the market, including Jaguar Land Rover, which has been helping Chinese young people go on sports exchanges.

The automaker teamed up with the British Council's Premier Skills youth program to help about 30 Chinese students and a group of referees to travel to take part in various soccer activities in Britain as well as to watch Premier League matches, financed by the company's Children and Youth Dream Fund.

"The exchange is a wonderful opportunity for children to broaden their horizons, get to know their British counterparts and learn from the best of British football," says Ni Jian, charge d'affaires at the Chinese embassy in London.

Xu Jiayin, owner of Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao FC, one of China's most successful teams, agrees and adds that exchanges in youth talent, club management and coaching development are far more vital to China's long-term soccer dreams than big-money transfers.


1997: Former England international Bobby Houghton became the first Briton to be appointed head coach of the Chinese national team.

1999: Manchester United, one of the most popular clubs in Europe, made its first preseason tour of China. Alex Ferguson's side played a friendly with Shanghai Shenhua FC.

2002: Sun Jihai became the first Chinese player to score an English Premier League goal while playing for Manchester City.

2003: In October, Beijing staged the first Sino-British grassroots soccer exchange, including junior matches and coaching sessions.

2005: During a visit to China in September, Prime Minister Tony Blair trained with students at Beijing's Yuetan Sports Center to promote a youth soccer clinic led by ex-England boss Bobby Robson.

2013: The Premier League and the Chinese FA announced a multilevel cooperation agreement during Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to China in December.

2015: Chancellor George Osborne announced in September that Britain would provide 3 million pounds in funding to train 5,000 Chinese coaches to Premier League level.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page