Monday 25 March 2019, 00:59

China embarks on 100-strong foreign coach project

  • China FA plan to import 100 foreign youth coaches by 2019

  • Aims are to help develop youth talents across the country

  • Each foreign coach has three local assistants to mentor

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Among those drawing inspiration from that timeless piece of wisdom are the CFA (Chinese Football Association), who have left no stone unturned to develop their game over recent years.

Keen on learning to 'fish', the football governing body of the world's most populous country have imported a series of world-class coaches in order to raise their managing levels. The FIFA World Cup™ winning coach Marcello Lippi was appointed head coach of the men's senior team three years ago, before being replaced by Fabio Cannavaro recently. Meanwhile, Guus Hiddink was handed the reigns of China's U-23 side last year.

These efforts, indeed, reflect the country's footballing ambitions at international level. But CFA are all too aware that the keys are to develop their youth as well as the local coaches if they are to achieve their long-term goals - increase the country's football population and help the national team qualify for the FIFA World Cup.

Then came the 100-foreign coach project last year, a notable program which is focused on youth development. As it is unveiled, a total of a hundred high-quality foreign coaches will be hired and sent to a dozen youth training centres across the country to cultivate their young talents.

"Youth development is the foundation of our football reform plans," CFA acting president Du Zhaocai told "It is the core of China's strategies of football development.

“We have plans of engaging around a hundred high-level foreign coaches in our youth training from 2018 to 2019. We want these coaches to instill their knowledge into our youngsters, to teach them the football elements."

A group of foreign youth coaches discuss work before undertaking training sessions in China

3+1 mode

These foreign experts include scouts, fitness coaches and goalkeeping coaches as CFA aim to promote the youth development at overall levels. More importantly, for each foreign coach there are three local coaches who are tasked with providing assistance as well as learning the managing know-how.

"This 3+1 mode will make sure that this project becomes a success," continued Du. "Because in the process, our home-grown coaches will broaden their visions by learning from these foreign experts.

“Apart from teaching the techniques and tactics, foreign coaches want the players to use their heads and to be more confident. Our local coaches can definitely gain experiences and make progress by working alongside them.

"One of our plans is to launch a China Football Coaches' College as we aim to establish our system of coaches’ development. Obviously, the 100-foreign coach project can serve the goals of training our youth talents as well as developing our coaches."

The first 15 foreign experts - all from Spain - have been decentralised to youth centres of seven cities and regions across the country. While more foreign coaches will be coming, CFA have cast their sights further afield.

"Up to now, we have established 29 such youth centres, including 14 women youth centres. Our plan is to complete 50 national youth centres by 2020 by co-operating with the local authorities across the country.

"Meanwhile, we will continue our international policy and set up youth centres in those footballing powerhouses in Europe and South America. We have launched three youth training centres in Czech Republic, Spain and Belgium. We will establish more overseas centres for our youngsters to develop.

“Youth development is a long-term task and CFA will try to complete a youth development system of our own."