Foreign coaching expertise shines on campuses

Updated: 2016-02-29 08:08

By Sun Xiaochen(China Daily)

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After working in Shanghai for two years as a soccer trainer at a primary school, German Thomas Ochs now experiences what could be described as a reverse form of homesickness. "Honestly, I miss Shanghai more when I am in Germany than Germany when I am here. It's quite impressive," said the 30-year-old, who was a former youth team coach with German league club Eintracht Frankfurt.

"I live in a shared apartment now and I have some local friends. I am also trying to learn some Chinese as I am totally in love with this city."

The best part of working as a soccer coach in Shanghai is the effect he is able to have on young people's lives, Ochs told China Daily at a recent training camp in Beijing.

"It's more interesting to work with the local kids here because you can help them more," he said. "You can help all children on the pitch. But with local kids here, you can help them with their whole lives by building up their social skills and personality. That is a bigger success for me than helping them score goals."

Inspired by stories like this, nine other foreign soccer trainers joined Ochs last year to work for Beijing-based company Ray Sports, which in cooperation with the local education authority, teaches soccer to local students at 10 pilot schools in Shanghai, offering soccer-specialty physical education courses.

Li Liangdong, founder of Ray Sports, said combining western expertise with a Chinese approach is more likely to work rather than copying youth development programs from other countries.

As China vows to expand its school soccer system ambitiously in the next decade, the lack of adequate junior coaches has emerged as a major challenge. This has opened business opportunities for companies such as Ray Sports and Sport 8 International to introduce foreign expertise.

On Feb 21, a soccer training program organized by Sport 8 wrapped up its 17-day winter camp in South China's Hainan province, where 274 secondary students and teachers received training guidance on the tropical island from Sport 8 soccer supervisor Jeffery Young, who used to be a youth trainer with Dutch professional club Ajax FC.

Such training clinics, which feature the advanced Dutch youth soccer training know-how that has produced an abundant supply of international stars, including Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, have reached out to hundreds of schools across China to train students and teachers with Sport 8's coaching crew.

"The after-school training provided by companies and NGOs will serve as a supplement to the already implemented school soccer courses as part of the official physical education curriculum," said Bai Qiang, co-founder of Sport 8.