A new buzz swirling around sport

Updated: 2015-07-28 08:32

By Xu Jingxi(China Daily)

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Chinese soccer is relishing the opportunity to capitalize on the central government's efforts to popularize the game, said Rong Zhihang, vice-chairman of the CFA and a former star player.

"The reason behind Chinese soccer's poor performance is the lack of solid basic skills and tactical awareness, which we need to cultivate in younger generations of players ... starting from childhood," Rong said.

"We are on the right track by introducing soccer training at schools. However, besides increasing the 'soccer population', improving youngsters' fitness and teaching them teamwork, promoting soccer on campuses needs to involve scouting talent.

"We should give more consideration to providing them (top players) with a higher platform for further training."

Enterprises, home and abroad, have been active in creating a new soccer buzz in China.

Dalian Wanda Group, one of China's largest conglomerates in real estate, has sent 90 young Chinese, aged 12-13, to join the youth teams of Spanish La Liga clubs Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Villarreal for three-year training stints since 2012.

Wanda signed a deal with the CFA in July 2011 to inject 200 million yuan over three years to support the association's "Future Star" overseas program, providing young soccer talents with the "higher platform" Rong hopes for.

Given the positive results achieved thus far, Wanda has continued its sponsorship this year. Thirty promising youngsters under 13, selected by Spanish experts, will set out for Atletico Madrid in early September for three-year training programs.

Meanwhile, Evergrande Group has imported a youth training system into its soccer school in Qingyuan, Guangdong province. The Real Madrid Foundation and SOXNA (Soccer Xcellence Nature) coaches are responsible for training at the school.

A cooperative project between defending Chinese Super League champion Guangzhou Evergrande and Spanish La Liga giant Real Madrid - the Evergrande Football School - kicked off its enrolment in 2012 for Chinese aged 7-11. The ulitmate aim is to reduce the club's reliance on foreign players and provide it with a young domestic base.

Zhang Bin, a CCTV sports anchorman, said he believes FAW-Volkswagen will make good use of its connections with top soccer clubs overseas to boost its youth camps in four Chinese cities.

"However, I don't think it is necessary for FAW-Volkswagen to develop the camps into ones for elite players with star quality only," Zhang said.

"It is more significant and inspiring in the sense that the youth training camps can serve families and communities and can eventually increase a whole city's participation in soccer."

Many parents took their children to watch the match between Evergrande and Bayern on July 23.

Who knows if that experience will help plant a seed for those kids to dream of becoming China's next generation of soccer stars?