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Wanda youth football training in Spain produced hopes for Chinese football

By Jin Shan, translated by Yutang Sports Monday, 11 May 2015 18:00

As the news that Wang Jianlin replaced Li Ka-shing as the richest man in Asia with a $38.6 billion personal wealth were widely reported by various media, Wang Jianlin, who was not very interested in rankings, was happy because of another piece of news – a roster selected by the coach of China national youth football team, Riekerink, for the U16 China national football team, included 20 young players who were sent to Spain to accept football training in Wanda’s youth training program. The total number of players on that roster was merely 28. 

Wanda’s young players took more than half of the positions, which displayed promising prospects for overseas training of young players which had received mixed opinions before. 

Chinese youth overseas training began 20 years ago when Jianlibao, a soft drink brand, started to send players overseas for the first time. However, the result of that time did not quite reach people’s expectation. 

Wanda studied the reason and found that it may be because the players did not receive proper trainings due to a lack of sufficient funding. Three years ago, Wanda cooperated with Chinese Football Association, had Spanish youth training experts chosen 30 young players after a large-scale selection, and sent them to Spain for a three-years training. These players were provided with good coaches and resources by Atletico Madrid, Valencia, and Villarreal and were guaranteed to play at least one good-quality friendly or training match each week. 

After the first 30 players, there were a few more times of selections and some following groups of young players were sent overseas. 

It had been hard to tell the effects of the program because the overall situation of Chinese overseas youth training had not been very good. But there came an opportunity for the players to prove themselves. 

At the end of last year, Riekerink was asked to select players to form the U16 national team. This team lost to Shenzhen 1 to 5 in March, and Shenzhen team had 6 Wanda young players. Riekerink began to pay attention to young players in Spain accepting training in Wanda Group. 

In April, he went to Spain with other coaches and to watch games of these players and some of their games in China. The twenty players were chosen. 

People said that these young players changed clearly in terms of football perceptions, techniques, and even their attitudes and characters after training in Spain. Their competence of the Spanish language also improved significantly as a result of Wanda’s requirement on this aspect. 

All the players need to attend the flag raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square before leaving the country. They are also required to remember to contribute to the home land during the trainings. Patriotism is emphasized during the education. 

Now that the quality of the training was proved, Chinese football and Wanda have a new advantage. Hope these young players and Wanda’s program would really benefit Chinese football in the future. 

Note: some small changes were made in the translation and some personal opinions were added. 



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