Dutch soccer expertise shows on campus
Updated: 2015-03-26 06:54
By SUN XIAOCHEN(China Daily)
Soccer coach Jan Olde Riekerink, former head of youth development at Dutch club Ajax, trains youngsters at a primary school in Beijing on Wednesday. [Photo/China Daily]
More Chinese youngsters look set to benefit from Dutch soccer's renowned youth program, which has produced an abundant supply of top players for clubs worldwide.
The ball was set rolling at Beijing Sangao Football Training Center on Wednesday when Jan Olde Riekerink and Edmond Claus, two former coaches at legendary Dutch club Ajax, held a training session with 44 players from primary and secondary schools.
Riekerink, the former mentor of star Dutch national players Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, demonstrated the drills and tactics that he used to train the star duo when they began their careers at the Ajax youth camp in the 1990s.
The 90-minute session resulted from a joint proposal by President Xi Jinping and retired Dutch national goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar to strengthen youth training exchanges. The proposal was made during Xi's visit to the Netherlands in March last year.
Xi, an avid soccer fan, called a top-level government meeting in February to discuss and approve a national soccer reform plan.
Riekerink, who worked at Ajax as a youth coach from 1995 to 2002, said, "I am always impressed by the attention that people have for youth education in China.
"I think you should be very happy and proud that your president supports youth football, but the people on the pitch helping children have to learn how to carry this out."
Riekerink's training session provided Chinese physical education teachers with valuable experience.
Liu Hailong, a PE teacher at Chengguan Primary School in Beijing's Changping district, said: "It really helps. His training regimen is quite different from the Chinese way. Everything was set up based on the technical demands of the game, with sufficient intensity, whereas we used to train players individually."
Bai Qiang, chief executive officer of sports marketing agency Sport8, one of the event's organizers, said the Education Ministry plans to provide instruction for 6,000 school soccer trainers this year as part of its campus promotion plans for the sport.
Such training exchanges are expected to reach more campuses in China, Bai said.
However, Riekerink, 52, stressed that much more should be taught in China, rather than just techniques.
"The philosophy in China is one of the things hampering players' development, because the culture here demands that they win important tournaments ... This is the biggest mistake that has been made."