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Should China Learn Soccer from Germany or UK?

Popularity 9Viewed 3684 times 2015-3-17 20:55 |Personal category:Sports|System category:News| critical, opinion, making, China, about

 

During the visit by UK’s Prince William, President Xi Jinping said China would learn from UK’s soccer formula and use it as a template for China’s soccer reforms. I haven’t had a critical look at China’s new reforms announced this week, but I am of the opinion that if China is really serious about making progress, then it should learn from the best of the best- Germany and not the UK.

 

From the look of the reform plans, there is no doubt that the soccer-drought nation is looking to improve on its FIFA ranking and not the pen-ultimate goal of winning the world cup. The long term goal of the plan fell short of winning the cup which for most analysts it is understandable. In my opinion, I think the plan fell short of a dream. The long term goal seeks to qualify and host the world cup, fair enough.

 

So, why shouldn’t China learn from England? Oh yes, there is spectacular football being played in the premier league, we all do agree to that, but most critics would also agree that, even British nationals are finding it increasingly difficult to make first team selection in the top flight teams in UK.

 

Then again, I bet we all saw how Germany demolished the almighty Samba boys not long ago and went on to win the world cup. England’s soccer team has lost its glory and shine, and very few people would bet a dollar on the English team during major competitions. That said, I dare say that Britain at the moment hasn’t got anything to teach China when it comes to football apart from marketing and commercializing the game which the English FA knows better than any F.A.  The German team however will continue to dominate international football for decades because of the ground-breaking foundation it built 14 years ago.

 

I wrote about this sometime ago but left out some details as to how the German youth program was modeled. It was reformed taking into consideration the youth soccer in Holland, a small country in Europe but making it big across all platforms. In the 2000s, German soccer was in shambles. The league wasn’t fun, it was insanely boring and there were few stars in the game there because rich European clubs were snapping the good players away. In June of 2000 the German team finished last in its group at the European Championship. They scored one goal in three games, losing to Portugal 3-0 in their final match.

 

I do agree that China is putting much stress and attention on developing youth soccer in the game, but this is exactly what Germany did. In February of 2001, the Bundesliga, the German league, made it mandatory for all 18 top-flight professional teams to run a youth academy. That is what China should insist but not just “encourage”. China should make it mandatory for all the league teams to set up academies. Directives should not look at just encouraging the teams to do so. It should be mandatory- period.

 

In Germany, for clubs to be issued their license, and the precondition for admission to any official competition, they had to hire full-time youth coaches, whose respective qualifications are taken into consideration when grading the academies, with those earning higher grades receiving higher funding. Moreover, appropriate training grounds had to be built, a medical department established and co-operation with schools initiated.

 

The better your academy is, the more funding you get. Under Bundesliga rules, a club with a top-rated three-star academy gets an additional $400,000 in funding every year, which is significant for smaller teams. According to a Bundesliga report in 2012, professional teams in Germany spent $681 million dollars on developing youth soccer in the country. The country’s football association also had its own initiative where it spent $13 million a year on youth soccer in communities and in high schools.

 

At a great cost, Germany built a system that efficiently identified young players, gave them professional coaching, developed their skills in a professionalized environment, and turned them into great players. It wasn’t any surprise when in 2013 two German teams, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, went head to head in the final of the Champions League.

 

The cost, I have no doubt China can foot the bill and even more. I do however hope and believe China’s soccer reforms would not be just words on paper but administered to the letter as Germany did. As a lot of noise is being made about the reforms, other Asian countries would be watching keenly how China pulls it off. They would be watching how China uses it economic power to up its game.

 

My personal opinion is, the reforms should target more rural kids. From experience, I have noticed that kids who are more disadvantaged are the kids who strive for glory and success. They exhibit more zeal and the fighting spirit. For them, success is some sort of hunger and they don’t stop till they are successful. Most urban kids on the other hand have a lackadaisical attitude towards competition. Am I right or wrong? You tell me.

 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report seanboyce88 2015-3-18 09:58
I don't think forcing children to play soccer is a good idea. If they don't like the sport, you are just wasting their time when it could be better spent learning something they like.

Another issue, football is sadly a male dominated sport, do all the girls now have to continue with this then even though it has no benefit to them minus being a form of exercise? Would it not be better to simply offer the CHOICE of football.
Reply Report voice_cd 2015-3-18 10:06
Thanks for sharing your opinion here. We have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2015-3-18 10:19
As a die-hard football fan, i would say the football is not only a national team issue. It is a system that is capable to attract fans to make the whole system self-sustainable and profitable so as to get more investors and youngsters to actively take part in it. UK has a best run football franchise globally.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2015-3-18 11:29
seanboyce88: I don't think forcing children to play soccer is a good idea. If they don't like the sport, you are just wasting their time when it could be better sp ...
The popularity of playing football among females is actually noticeably increasing. It is very popular at school level in USA and is growing in interest in China (Thanks David Beckham!)
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2015-3-18 11:29
Dr.Bill.Shen: As a die-hard football fan, i would say the football is not only a national team issue. It is a system that is capable to attract fans to make the who ...
Many fans in China support EPL teams!
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2015-3-18 12:38
ColinSpeakman: The popularity of playing football among females is actually noticeably increasing. It is very popular at school level in USA and is growing in intere ...
China Lady's team has made world cup final once. But recently also took precipitous dive in ranking.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2015-3-18 12:41
Dr.Bill.Shen: China Lady's team has made world cup final once. But recently also took precipitous dive in ranking.
They too need good coaching!
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2015-3-18 12:42
ColinSpeakman: Many fans in China support EPL teams!
EPL? Chinese national team had learnt most from spanish football by simply walking on the pitch. There is a serious lack of fighting spirit, notwithstanding the techinical skills.
Reply Report eddieturkson 2015-3-18 17:31
Dr.Bill.Shen: EPL? Chinese national team had learnt most from spanish football by simply walking on the pitch. There is a serious lack of fighting spirit, notwithst ...
That could be a major reason why the teams isn't making much progress....lack of technical skill......they simply fail to apply it on the field....and also the fighting spirit hence my suggestion to target rural disadvantaged kids who have a lot to fight for.
Reply Report HailChina! 2015-3-19 01:30
I think it is a good idea to learn from the best. I am a big basketball fan and our domestic league has benefited greatly from Americans coming here and helping us. The NBL made a rule that teams could import two non-Australians for the team. It was capped at two imports per team to stop teams using all imports and preventing development of national players. The basketball league in England allows three imports on-court and five on contract which is too many and limits England basketball development. Australia basketball is far superior to English. I think that just as important as youth development is the development of a quality national league. China seems to be doing this with soccer. Importing guys like Tim Cahil to play in the Chinese domestic competition will help China soccer a lot in my opinion. Having great basketball players like Stephon Marbury playing for the Ducks in the domestic Chinese basketball comp is a great thing. And it is good to have coaches from the best nations. Australian basketball has benefited greatly from having American coaches like Brian Goorjian and Brett Brown coach in our domestic comps as well as be involved in our National program, both being head coach of the Boomers. We also have a lot of American players that came to play in the NBL, liked Australia and became Aussies. Guys like Steve Carfino, Ricky Grace, Darnell Mee and many others are greats of Australian basketball and have become citizens. Grace and Mee and other naturalized Americans have represented Australia at an international level. Children of naturalized Americans like NBA player Dante Exum, son of naturalized former NBL great Cecil Exum help Australian basketball. A good domestic comp with some level of respect seems to encourage recruiters and agents to be interested in nations youth. And good showings at World Championships and Olympics. Australia is still not exactly a world beater in basketball but we are solid and respected and it has a lot to do with Australian basketball learning from Americans.

Australia has a problem with our best players leaving to play in America or Europe but in my opinion this is a good thing. The more top level players our nation can produce the better for Australian basketball in my opinion. I like that China encourages national players that play overseas to prioritize National Duty over their pro career. China basketball gained more from Wang Zhi Zhi than Australia basketball did from Luc Longley for example. Luc Longley did nothing for the Boomers and always made the NBA his priority. And we allowed it. I would have taken his citizenship. He is an American to me not an Aussie. But when Wang Zhi Zhi tried to avoid China national duty China made sure that he came back and did his duty for China. This is good. Luc Longley should be the great of Aussie basketball but we hate him because he is selfish. Andrew Gaze is the all time great of Aussie basketball even though Longley had a superior NBA career. ( Andrew Gaze did everything. Took Seton Hall to NCAA final in college. Played in NBA and Europe. Won NBA championship with Spurs. Won NBL titles with Melbourne Tigers. Captain of Boomers. His career is actually superior on paper anyway. But Longleys could have been better if he wasnt a selfish American ) ( I would trade Longley for a naturalized American like Steve Carfino or Ricky Grace or Robert Rose or Leonard Copeland or Darryl Mcdonald or Mark Davis or Leroy Loggins any day of the week ) ( Mark Bradtke was a better centre than Luc Longley anyway. And he could have had an NBA career but he liked Australia too much )

I think that the more China soccer has to do with UK and Europe the better. And that a solid domestic comp is every bit as important as grass roots development.
Reply Report Judy_Zhu 2015-3-19 04:31
From my own experience, I guess kids like playing pingpong, basketball, and badminton more than football in China.
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2015-3-19 11:43
Judy_Zhu: From my own experience, I guess kids like playing pingpong, basketball, and badminton more than football in China.
I grew up by playing football a lot. I used to be a decent midfielder. I stopped playing when i went to the states.
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2015-3-19 11:48
HailChina!: I think it is a good idea to learn from the best. I am a big basketball fan and our domestic league has benefited greatly from Americans coming here a ...
Watched Luc Longley a lot, since he was standing next to you know who: MJ. I almost watched every game MJ played. After his retirement, I stopped watch basketball for good. I do not think anyone could better him.
Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2015-3-19 11:51
eddieturkson: That could be a major reason why the teams isn't making much progress....lack of technical skill......they simply fail to apply it on the field....and ...
the problem is that kids in rural areas are not that exposed to sports. they are not too crazy about it.
Reply Report HailChina! 2015-3-19 16:09
Dr.Bill.Shen: Watched Luc Longley a lot, since he was standing next to you know who: MJ. I almost watched every game MJ played. After his retirement, I stopped watc ...
I used to hate Micheal Jordan. But yeah he was pretty good hey. I used to hate Andrew Gaze too. (  I have always hated Longley since he prioritized Chicago over Australia. ) With the NBA I liked the Spurs. David Robinson, Dennis Rodman, Sean Elliot, Avery Johnson etc

And yeah I stopped watching basketball after the Sydney Kings threepeat pretty much. I am still interested though casually.

But yeah, I think that domestic comps can be improved in quality by bringing in second level imports from premier nations. There is a lot of diamonds in the rough and top level talent that for whatever reason did not find the right fit in top level. People like this are perfect to bring in and improve the standard of domestic leagues. Coaches too.
Reply Report eddieturkson 2015-3-19 16:43
Dr.Bill.Shen: the problem is that kids in rural areas are not that exposed to sports. they are not too crazy about it.
You are right......but then I also think that could possibly be one of the reasons or the missing link. I have a feeling taking the game to rural kids in particular,  instead of setting up all those state of the art academies in the cities could spawn that euphoria or enthusiasm among rural kids.
Reply Report parcher 2015-3-19 20:04
China will learn nothing from our formula, and as the OP said our useless FA are only interested in keeping their little pet EPL the best in the world. They have been totally obsessed with this for years, and Man u were perfect for them under fergie!!!
with so many plastic fans tuning in around the world to watch man u, it was vital they were winning or at least challenging season after season. They were terrified of fergie, and he was allowed to bully every ref out there....
Our English youngsters have been denied the chance to progresss at there clubs, because of the foreign super stars arriving, but that suits the FA perfectly as more super stars means more viewers tuning in around the world.
England will struggle for years until these old codgers from the FA sod off and allow real passionate people who care for the national team.......good luck china, but do not copy our formula ....
Reply Report eddieturkson 2015-3-20 00:39
HailChina!: I think it is a good idea to learn from the best. I am a big basketball fan and our domestic league has benefited greatly from Americans coming here a ...
good comparisons, thanks for the insight, your analysis is quite informative
Reply Report eddieturkson 2015-3-20 00:43
Judy_Zhu: From my own experience, I guess kids like playing pingpong, basketball, and badminton more than football in China.
You're right on point no doubt about that. But what in your opinion could be done to promote soccer to the next generation. Do you think the status quo can be changed so that more kids take interest in soccer. It can change China's fortunes on the field, what do you think?
Reply Report eddieturkson 2015-3-20 00:54
parcher: China will learn nothing from our formula, and as the OP said our useless FA are only interested in keeping their little pet EPL the best in the world ...
With Fergie gone, Man U i now struggling to make it even to the Champions league......he might have to stage a comeback.....at least for a one or two-year stint.....if not Man U would be galloping behind those oil fueled teams

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