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Soccer coaches, refs to get more training

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-19 07:06

Full-time, well-paid match officials would improve game, CFA says

Impressed by China's national soccer reforms, the game's continental governing body - the Asian Football Confederation - pledged more support on Tuesday for the training of coaches and referees to help the country realize its soccer ambitions.

As China rolls out a national blueprint to develop into a world soccer power, developments from grassroots promotion to league competition have intrigued Windsor John, the visiting general secretary of the confederation.

"We are very pleased about the reforms that have taken place in China. The growth in attendance and popularity of the Chinese Super League is a very positive image for Asian football," said Windsor, who is on his first official visit to China since taking the helm in 2015. "The performance of the CSL clubs has become the benchmark for other clubs in Asia."

Since the State Council, China's Cabinet, issued a soccer reform plan in early 2015, with the goal of becoming a strong soccer nation by 2050, investment in the league has surged and the level of competition has improved, highlighted by domestic champion club Guangzhou Evergrande's victories at the AFC Champions League in 2013 and 2015.

Still, the lack of enough qualified coaches and relatively poor officiating have been taking a toll. Windsor said the confederation is prepared to help.

"There are a lot of new programs we are talking about with the CFA," he said, referring to the Chinese Football Association. "One of these is referee training, which is critical to improving the standard of referees."

Following a plan unveiled by the confederation last week to professionalize referees as early as next year, the confederation is prepared to send officiating experts for exchanges and training events in China on a more regular basis, Windsor said.

Most of China's referees serving domestic leagues are part-time officials with jobs as college teachers or coaches.

A system in which referees would work full-time - and with decent income and transparent assessments - would improve the quality of the game, said Huang Shiwei, spokeswoman of the CFA.

A coaching convention with the CFA will be signed at the end of 2017 to authorize China to organize AFC-certificated coach training courses customized based on its own situation, Windsor said.

"As you embark on a big plan through 2050, you need a lot of coaches. This convention comes at a good time for China to start producing top coaches on its own, not relying on AFC's programs," he said.

sunxiaochen@chinadaily.com.cn

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