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A delegation of coaches from China is delighted to have benefited from Europe's football knowledge in a coach education initiative involving the European Union, UEFA and the Chinese Football Association (CFA).
Forty coaches from China – national youth team coaches, the head coaches of a variety of elite sides from Under-12 to U19 levels, and women's youth team coaches – took part in the sporting exchange under the 2011 EU–China Year of Youth.
UEFA staged the event at its headquarters in Nyon, in cooperation with the European Commission. Over ten days, the course comprised presentations from European experts and national associations on, among other things, the development of young players and the work of youth academies in European countries, plus practical sessions featuring junior players and visits to youth matches specially arranged for the course.
The visitors from China thanked UEFA for having provided them with experiences which will be invaluable in helping to develop Chinese football, particularly at youth level. "We are so lucky that this delegation can come to UEFA," said CFA vice-president Li Xue. "This is very important for us, everyone learned a lot from it.
"It is the first time that Chinese football has brought such a large team to study at UEFA," Li Xue added. "Usually, only national coaches have the opportunity to communicate with Europe and other countries – even so, they only get limited information from the matches. However, these training courses by UEFA are about youth football training systems – it is a precious opportunity. The courses were fantastic and we will benefit from them. We now know a lot about something we knew only a little about before."
Su Maozhen, coach of China's national U20 team, echoed Li Xue's comments. "This will help a lot for the development of Chinese youth football. During the sessions, experts told us how to train youth players, gave us a whole example about what a complete youth training system should be, what structure it should have if we want to improve our football. We've learnt a lot of useful theories, which will open our minds about how to develop youth football in China. It's great help for us.
"The government and the CFA pay lots of attention to football development, especially the promotion and training of youth football," Su Maozehn added. "The CFA has put a lot of resources into youth football coaches. Now, government leaders, the CFA and the fans all realise that we cannot only concentrate on our national team – the development of youth football can provide us with more benefits in the future."
UEFA has the satisfaction of knowing it has fulfilled one of the key elements of its mission – sharing knowledge, ideas and best practice in an effort to contribute to the promotion and improvement of the quality of football worldwide.
"It's the first time we have a large Chinese delegation in a technical cooperation programme," said William Gaillard, adviser to the UEFA president. "Therefore we combine the goodwill of the European Union, of the Chinese government and of UEFA, together with that of the Chinese federation. So getting these four institutions together was an interesting first.
"Definitely it is a way to showcase European football knowledge and European football coaching knowledge; and at the same time to provide it to our Chinese partners and friends for their youth elite coaches," he added. "Hopefully in the future that will lead to an increase in the level of Chinese football, which is always great for our sport."
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