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Chinese learn soccer in Brazil

Updated: 2014-07-07 05:52
By ZHANG FAN in Sao Paulo ( China Daily Latin America)

Teen girls taking part in a three-year program to hone skills under pros

About 14 young Chinese women football players recently arrived in Brazil for a three-year professional football training in Ribeirao Preto, a city located in the northeastern part of the country.

The 14 girls, aged 16 and under, are sponsored by the Elite Group from Hebei province, China. Its Elite Football Club has sent 44 players to Brazil with 23 having returned to China earlier this year. The 14 girls will be the first group of female players sponsored by the club.

"I hope the professional training in Brazil can help China to develop more good younger players," said Xu Tao, the director of this program.

"I know our national team is not strong and people are making fun of it," said Wang Yaqing, a player from Shanxi province, China, "I am angry about the situation and want to show them our strength by playing well."

The young players will receive training with local football clubs including instruction on football fundamentals, physical training and mental training. They will also learn about local football culture and language.

"Our first group of players have made significant progress," said Xu, who used to be the gatekeeper and coach for China's national football team from 1992 to 2005. They are no longer afraid of playing with foreigners and have better a understanding about football."

A team of players from the Elite Football club in Brazil won the 2013 Sao Paulo Youth Cup U17 Championship and become the first foreign team to win such an honor in 20 years, according to Xu. Three of the players remain in Brazil and have been chosen to play for the younger team of the Botafogo club, one of the strongest football teams from southern Brazil.

The 23 players who have already returned to China continue to play as a team in China's National Football League Two, the third level of Chinese professional football league, and Chinese FA Cup organized by the Chinese Football Association.

"Brazil has the best football training system and platform for younger players," said Xu, who has been dedicated to finding the best partner for the countryartyouth football training. "Compared with European countries, Brazil not only has the largest number of domestic football leagues, but has also sent lots of players to other countries'lprofessional teams."

"Moreover the country has the largest number of teenage football players. The culture of football is in their blood,"esaid Xu.

Established in 1988 in Shijiazhuang, capital city of Hebei province, Elite Group is a comprehensive education group including six colleges, a secondary school and media institutions.

Elite Group set up Elite Football Club in 2009 to build a team of younger players through the experience of playing in foreign countries.

"We want to build a platform to connect Chinese football with the world's top level," said Xu.

Elite Football Club is not the first team hoping to develop Chinese football through training younger players in Brazil. The Jianlibao youth soccer team brought 22 young players to Brazil in 1993 and six became players on China's national football team and participated in the 2004 World Cup Qualification in Germany.

"I hope Brazil can have the answer for Chinese football," said Chen Xiaodong, leader of the Chinese women football team from the club. "Our effort will be well worth it if we can shorten the time it takes to field a strong Chinese football team."


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