International junior tournament to benefit soccer youth

Updated: 2016-04-01 20:16

By  Sun Xiaochen(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Inspired by China's ambition to raise soccer's profile nationwide, an international youth soccer tournament was jointly launched on Thursday by private promoters and government departments in Jiangsu province, aimed at improving junior league soccer through foreign exchanges.

The 2016 "Lancy Codion Cup" International Junior Soccer Invitation Tournament will kick off in Haimen, Jiangsu on July 2 with 17 junior teams from strong soccer nations including Spain and Brazil to compete with three local squads at three age categories, Under 10, U12 and U14, over a five-day course.

The tournament was first established in 2012 by Codion United, a youth club owned by a shoe factory in Haimen, and will be financially supported by Chinese high-end fashion brand Lancy this year.

Since it was founded in 2011 by factory owner Li Taizhen, Codion has now signed more than 150 student players aged from 8 to 14, who practice with a 21-member international coaching crew featuring Brazilian and South Korean trainers, while receiving academic education at nearby primary and secondary schools.

All the three Chinese teams participating in the youth tournament are from Codion this year.

"We expected the tournament could help improve our kids' physical and mental conditions through competition against their peers from abroad. The international exposure from early on will benefit their future development," said Li, a fervent soccer fan whose son is also practicing with Codion.

Juliano Rodrigues, a coach from Brazil with Codion, echoed his employer, saying that an international competition helps even more than training sessions in helping junior players mature.

"The effect of our training session should be tested by the tournament, which provides kids a valuable opportunity to assess their competitiveness against foreign counterparts," said the former goalkeeper coach of the Brazilian U16 national team.

Thanks to the advanced training system as well as support facilities, the U12 team from Codion won the national title in 2014 while three players were enrolled by the national U14 team a year later.

After struggling to earn enough financial and policy support in its early years, the club has now received strong government backing from Haimen's sports governing body and education authority.

Wang Yongjun , mayor of Haimen, said at the tournament's launching ceremony on Thursday that the city will continue supporting the club while investing more in youth cultivation to build soccer culture into part of the local character of the city.

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