China's football school R&F is working with the Netherlands' most successful football club---Ajax, to train young Chinese football players. This is one of the latest cooperation projects between the two countries. Ning Hong visited the training base in Meizhou, Guangdong Province.
Young football players are trained under the instruction of coaches from Ajax, a club known to have one of the world's top youth academies.
This is a five-year program backed by the R&F football school, one of four professional football academies in China.
The school currently keeps 8 reserve teams from U9 to U16, for Guangzhou R&F Football Club.
NING HONG MEIZHOU, GUANGDONG PROVINCE "China's football clubs are paying more attention to the training of young football players, and by building a school like this, they are investing into the future of these kids."
While raising the standards of enrolment, the school is also paying attention to the long-term development of these teenage players. That includes building up profiles which include their skillset, abilities and weaknesses, and sharing the data with Ajax. Those who have glimpses of a promising future will be sent to train in the Netherlands.
HONG YOUQIANG, PRINCIPAL R&F FOOTBALL SCHOOL "We are trying to let our students love football first, to know football, and then decide whether they choose to be a professional football player."
Such a concept is also making the cooperation with Ajax a favourable choice. Ed and his colleagues are now helping to train both coaches and students here. He agrees that the focus should be on each and every individual player.
ED ENGELKES, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR R&F FOOTBALL SCHOOL "It is about everything which is involving Ajax, the magic of Ajax, the creativity of Ajax. It is the total product."
Youth football is developing fast in China, with most major clubs all nurturing their own reserve teams. The market is yet to mature, but for those who love football, this is the golden chance they need. Ning Hong, CGTN, Guangdong Province.