Chinese juniors bid to emulate heroes on European stage

Updated: 2014-05-30 18:14

By Sun Xiaochen (

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To inspire young players during the World Cup, the National Youth Soccer Development Office, Zhongtijixian Sports Cultural Corp and Global Media Productions have jointly launched the second season of Football Dream.

The cultural exchange and youth soccer training program kicked off in Beijing on May 29.

Featuring a talent draft, overseas training and cultural exchange tours, the program promotes soccer culture and youth development on multimedia platforms.

The event provides talented Chinese juniors, aged from 14 to 16, with opportunities to train with international stars at elite European clubs, in a bid to bring advanced training methods to Chinese hopefuls. 

Through television programs and online broadcasting, audiences will be able to witness the improvement in junior players as well as the pursuit of their dreams.

The second season will select 48 teenagers from more than 1,000 participants at trials in Beijing, Shanghai, GuangzhouNanjing and Hong Kong.

After the elimination stage, 24 players will earn direct berths at European training camps staged by English Premier League Tottenham Hotspur and Italian powerhouse Inter Milan in July. 

Tottenham club ambassador and former England star Ledley King, former Dutch national player Edgar Davids and one-time Inter Milan right backJose Marcelo Ferreira, commonly known as Ze Maria, will coach at the camp.

Players must endeavor to earn the highest points possible during each practice to qualify for the next session while the bottom two are eliminated.

The contests not only assess players' skills but also evaluate their ability to adapt to a different culture.

The top four will be rewarded with trips to Europe with their parents to see a live Premier League match later this year.

Davids, one of the best midfielders in Europe during his time with Juventus in the 1990s, sees the program as an ideal platform for teenagers to experience the beauty of the game while inspiring the next generation of players.

"Playing soccer requires a lot of virtues like discipline, determination and dedication, which all the kids will need in their future careers even if they don't play professionally," he said.

King echoed the sentiment, saying soccer is the best teacher outside school for children.

In the inaugural season of Football Dream, 34 teenage players took part in a two-week training program at Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam and Premier League Everton in May last year. 

Legendary Dutch stars Edwin van der Sar and Ronald de Boer and Everton icon Graeme Sharp as well as youth coach Ray Hall passed on their experience to the Chinese juniors, who improved their skills while earning honors in the camp.