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Government announces program aimed at development in five cities
The chronic underperformance of China on the international soccer stage has spurred the government to implement a more hands-on approach to the game.
To explore new avenues to develop soccer here, five cities - Qingdao, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Dalian and Wuhan - were chosen by the General Administration of Sport of China and the Chinese Football Association for a pilot program.
According to CFA Vice-President Wei Di, his association is now working with the five cities to achieve specific targets.
Those goals include the improvement of the local soccer associations, training, competition and evaluation systems and the policy-making of the local sports authorities.
"The pilot cities had to have a strong soccer history, a considerable foundation, the support of local government and an energetic local association," Wei said of the selection process after signing agreements with representatives of the five cities in Beijing on Wednesday.
"We reached specific agreements with these five cities after a lot of research and discussion," he said. "We expect to advance the program to the provincial level next year."
According to Wei, the CFA has allocated 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) to the five cities this year to help them organize more soccer activities and encourage retired players to take up coaching posts. The CFA expects to provide more funds in 2013 for venue construction and renovation.
The CFA's move to share its resources with local soccer bodies and sports bureaus is seen as a major step forward in giving more associations a say in the sport's decision-making process.
"The CFA is changing the way it works. Instead of sending instructions to local associations, it is bringing all parties together to discuss how to improve Chinese soccer and boost the sport's development," said Gu Jianming, president of the Chengdu Football Association. "I think this is a major change for the CFA.
"As the head of a local association, my responsibility is to find out how to popularize soccer around the city, and to serve people and fulfill their needs in participating in the sport. The pilot cities will benefit (from the program), and the CFA will support them by supplying policies, capital and talent evaluation (of players, coaches and referees)."
(China Daily 12/13/2012 page22)