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Soccer clubs go to China, Brazil style

Updated: 2014-07-07 04:16
By ZHANG FAN in Sao Paulo ( China Daily Latin America)

Soccer clubs go to China, Brazil style

Players of Corintians Under-20 youth team from Sao Paulo set off on July 4 fo Beijing to have friendly matches with China's national Under-20 team and Beijing Guo'an, one of the strongest football teams playing in China Super League. "We are to win!" said Lucas Roncato Branco (third from left), the captain of the team. Zhang Fan / China Daily

A team of 20 Brazilian players embarked on a trip of helping players, coaches and supporters in China better understand the Latin American country's club system of developing soccer players.

The players, who left for China on July 4 and stayed there for about 10 days, are from the Corinthians U20, the youth football team of the Corinthians club. All the players are under the age of 20.

"They are very excited about playing in China," said Alexandre Ferreira, the marketing manager of the Corinthians club. "They have never been to China before and they are asking all kinds of questions such as which team they are going to play with."

Brazil has a history of professional football clubs with the first one established in the 1920s. The club system accumulates lots of supporters for each club and enables the club to train and develop players.

China introduced the concept of the professional football club in 1992 and had its first Chinese Football A League two years later. Currently there are about 40 professional football teams in China.

Invited by the Chinese Football Association, they are going to have matches with China's national under 20 football team and Beijing Guo'an, one of the strongest football teams playing in the China Super League.

"It only took 15 days for us to gain the invitation," said Fang Ze, a Chinese soccer fan working in Brazil who helped arranged the matches. "It usually takes months for such things to happen, so I guess Brazilian football teams are welcomed by Chinese association."

Ferreira said it's a good opportunity to show the quality of their team. "During my last visit to China two months ago, I told the Chinese club that Corinthians is one of the most successful football teams in Brazil in terms of young players. Now they have the chance to see for themselves."

The 20 players are among the best of the more than 150 members of the Corinthians team. "We are pretty confident that there will be good matches in China and we can exchange our cultures," said Ferreira.

"I think the exchanges will not only be about playing football. They can learn about our methodologies and we also bring our sports doctors," he said, adding that the games will produce communication between the Brazilian and Chinese teams.

Lucas Roncato Branco, the captain of the team, said though he has never been to China, he understands that the country is very beautiful and looking forward to have the friendly matches with the Chinese team.

"And we are here to win the matches," said Branco.

A group of Chinese youth players will come to Brazil several days later to play with the Corinthians under 16 team. "It will be a good chance because they will have the chance to see our training camp and how we implement our training process here," said Ferreira. "We are hoping to share all the knowledge and we will receive them with open arms."

"Corinthians wouldn't be anything without our supporters. Everything we have is built during the process and that is the reason why we can be successful," said Ferreira. "But it takes time to develop a mature football club system. China is still learning the process."

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