Sports / Soccer

Bayern stars boost China's game plan

By Xu Jingxi in Guangzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2015-07-28 08:32

Four new training camps on the way as country seeks to get soccer back on track

Like many other world-famous soccer clubs that have visited China, Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich orchestrated a whirlwind of activities during the team's preseason tour last week.

Three matches in three cities in six days, and the millionaire stars' time away from training was filled with numerous fan meetings arranged by sponsors.

Bayern stars boost China's game plan

Budding young Chinese soccer players hone their skills with Bayern Munich's Joshua Kimmich (right) and David Alaba last week in Guangzhou. Provided to China Daily

Any fatigue was driven away by the enthusiasm of the Chinese fans.

Three Bayern players - Thiago Alcantara, David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich - coached 22 youngsters aged 8-10 at a Guangzhou camp organized by automaker FAW-Volkswagen.

The trio had just finished a training session in preparation for a friendly against Chinese champion Guangzhou Evergrande after flying from Shanghai to the South China city in the afternoon.

The training camp started at about 9 pm, but their delight shone through as they guided the kids through dribbling, passing and shooting routines.

Alcantara recalled he had the opportunity to work out with one of his idols as a child, and that memory has remained with him.

"It is a great opportunity for kids to take part in the youth training camps coached by so many top clubs. Some of them may become professional players in the future ... some may not.

"But at their age, the best thing they can do is to enjoy soccer and have fun," said the Bayern midfielder.

The brief session was not expected to enhance the skill level of the 22 young players, but rubbing shoulders with star players could encourage them to follow their soccer dreams, said Zhang Pijie, general manager of FAW-Volkswagen.

Volkswagen Group, the joint venture's German founder, is a major shareholder of Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg. Zhang said the company hopes to boost development of Chinese youth soccer.

As the sponsor of Bayern Munich's China tour, FAW-Volkswagen brought Chinese fans high-level competition by matching the team against Spanish club Valencia in Beijing, Italian club Inter Milan in Shanghai and Guangzhou Evergrande in Guangzhou.

At the same time, it also created many opportunities for young Chinese to learn from the Bundesliga champion's players and coaches. Besides the training camp, members of the coaching team also gave a two-hour, Bayern-type training session to more than 100 young players in Guangzhou.

FAW-Volkswagen also announced establishment of a fund for Chinese youth soccer in partnership with the China Sports Foundation and the Chinese Football Association.

The automaker will invest at least 6 million yuan ($966,000) annually until 2017, said Zhang.

The fund will mainly be used to set up nonprofit youth training camps in Northeast China's Changchun, Southwest China's Chengdu, East China's Qingdao and South China's Foshan - the four cities where FAW-Volkswagen factories are located.

The camps will select players aged 10-12 who perform well at inter-school tournaments and provide them with at least 90 training sessions per year overseen by professional coaches registered by the Chinese Football Association.

As the program develops, FAW-Volkswagen will invite foreign coaches to the camps and send young Chinese players and coaches abroad to receive further training, Zhang said.

"Chinese youth soccer requires a better platform for its development. We are incapable of building the platform on our own, but we want to set an example and get more enterprises joining the force to boost the youth training of Chinese soccer," Zhang said.

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