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AFC Ajax teams up with Beijing schoolchildren

By Wang Zhuoqiong | China Daily | Updated: 2016-05-26 08:27

Star players and coaches from legendary European soccer team, AFC Ajax, as well as the team's celebrated Youth Academy, joined forces at a primary school in Beijing's Haidian district on May 15 to promote grassroots soccer.

During the first round of training, 30 children from the primary school affiliated to Tsinghua University, one of the top-performing primary schools in the country, trained with internationally acclaimed consultant and adidas AG soccer trainer Tom Byer.

Byer guided the children to improve their skills based on the soccer curriculum application of adidas, the German sportswear giant.

Originally from New York, Byer's 20-year career nurturing the talent of more than 500,000 children has led him to become one of Asia's best-known and highly respected youth soccer coaches.

Top coaches from AFC Ajax's Youth Academy then took over for an intensive training session, providing the children with a rare opportunity to experience the academy's world-class coaching, along with 50 observing PE teachers from Haidian district.

They all got the opportunity to interact with star players from the team, including Jasper Cillessen, Amin Younes, Kenny Tete, Jairo Riedewald and Donny van de Beek, who shared tips on technique as well as advice on pursuing a career in professional soccer. The event culminated in a friendly match involving Ajax players and the students.

"Extending adidas' football leadership in China represents a key element of our recently unveiled 'Creating the New 2020 Greater China' strategy," said Colin Currie, managing director of adidas Group's China operation, which sponsored and supported this event.

"We will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Education to develop the sport at the grassroots level throughout schools nationwide," Currie said.

China has set out a goal to develop 50,000 schools with mandatory soccer curricula by 2025. This massive project requires concerted effort from all parties, said Wang Dengfeng, director of the Ministry of Education's physical, health and art education department.

"We are pleased that as the MOE's three-year partner on school soccer, adidas is here today with famous international soccer club, Ajax, to help school children in China develop both essential skills, as well as an enduring, lifelong passion for soccer."

"Our participation in today's event provides us with an exciting opportunity to see talented children play in China with our own eyes while training them to improve their skills," said AFC Ajax Director Edwin Van der Sar.

Under adidas' three-year agreement with the MOE, the firm aims to deliver its dedicated grassroots soccer programs targeting both young players and trainers to a total of 20,000 schools and 30 million individuals nationwide. The company's grassroots program consists of youth leagues, coach training courses, player development programs as well as summer and winter camps, to develop soccer talent at an early age.

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