Young Chinese soccer players join stars

Updated: 2014-07-20 07:36

By Luo Wangshu (China Daily)

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Young Chinese soccer players join stars

Chinese beverage producer JDB Group announced it has invested 10 million yuan ($1.67 million) in a program to send Chinese youth to receive professional soccer training in Argentina.

The first group left Beijing for Argentina on July 12, the eve of the FIFA final. Fifteen boys ages 14 to 17 joined a two-week session at the Atletico Boca Juniors Club and Atletico River Plate Club.

A total of 60 young players will be selected for the 17-day program, which includes physical training, friendship games and communication with professionals.

Chinese Football Association vice-president Wei Jixiang said the association supports such exchanges.

JDB Group Party committee secretary Pang Zhenguo said: "We hope to contribute to the realization of China's soccer dream and enhance the influence of China's sports culture."

Chinese soccer is widely recognized as weak.

Its team has not played in the FIFA since 2002.

JDB Group believed the program will boost youths' interest and abilities.

Argentine soccer star Diego Armando Maradona will be the program's general consultant, and his company will run the training, Guangzhou Daily reported.

Maradona's Chinese business consultant Tang Qinghui told the paper: "Since the first batch arrives during the FIFA, Maradona will probably be busy watching the game and may not be able to guide the boys. But the next 45 young players will receive the star's guidance."

The group hopes the program helps China become closer with the FIFA.

luowangshu@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 07/20/2014 page3)