A new idea at grass roots level

Brazilian star Hulk, Naples legend Marek Hamsik, Axel Witsel from Dortmund, Paulinho, Anthony Modeste and Carlos Tevez – there is a long list of big names who have made their living in the Chinese Super League over the last few years. Some stars are still on this list – and it is getting longer and longer. Even in the People’s Republic of China, King Football is slowly starting to dominate sport.

Globally, football is the number one sport. For example, FIFA figure show that the 2018 FIFA World Cup attracted 3.572 billion viewers. The final between France and Croatia was watched by 1.12 billion viewers worldwide.

But on the world football stage, the People’s Republic of China has played only a very minor role in recent years. The 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan was the only one for which the Chinese national team managed to qualify, and seen on a global scale, the Chinese population’s interest in football was on the low side compared with other countries. However, a wind of change has been blowing in recent years: Chinese football is changing.

“The Chinese are showing a great interest in football. They are watching many matches from the English Premier League, German Bundesliga or Spanish La Liga. Italian football has also been followed a lot in the past, South American matches, too,” explains Chinese Sports Strategists project leader Jianbo He. The problem in China is that “the standard of football is still very low”.

The stars who came to China for big money in recent years helped to focus attention on football. However, the standard of the Chinese national team has not improved. “A lot of money has been invested in big names. But that is also a problem. We’ve noticed that clubs spend more on stars than on their own young talent. Although Chinese clubs are playing well, the national team is still lagging behind.”

That’s how the idea for “The Chinese Sports Strategists” came about. European training methods meet Chinese football culture. The project aims to bring the best of both worlds together. “We are trying, on a small scale, to show a slightly different idea, a different philosophy.”

In cooperation with European professional clubs, a pilot project was launched in Changzhou. “We got the chance for a two-month test,” explains Jianbo He. Accompanied by a team of several coaches, “The Chinese Sports Strategist” travelled to Changzhou for a comprehensive youth training programme.

The aim of this blog is to show what happened during the two-month trial period. In the next posts, you will get to know our trainers, gain insights into the daily routines of the test phase and learn how the different philosophies worked together.