Sharing knowledge in Beijing

‘We are very glad to have Chelsea’s coaches come here to teach the children and the coaches. This is a good opportunity to learn from Chelsea and I hope there will be more cooperation in the future.’

Those were the words of Mr Chen, the head of the Beijing FA, as he surveyed the morning’s training sessions hosted by Chelsea Foundation coaches and attended by a collection of local children in the south-west of the Chinese capital.

Giving Chelsea fans in Asia the chance to watch their heroes in action live is only part of the reason why the club is visiting this summer. Down at the grassroots level, it is about contributing on a long-term basis to the football infrastructure in the places we visit. The ‘Here to Play, Here to Stay’ philosophy which has long been fundamental to our visits overseas is very much alive.  

In China, the Chelsea Foundation has been working on the ground for four years, with four coaches resident in a football development school in Meixian, southern China.  The focus of these programmes has been to not only develop the players in the school but also to educate and train the coaches.

Those are exactly the types of activity Mr Chen, a former professional footballer, witnessed taking place on the first full day of the team’s time in China, and as the man in charge of the Beijing FA, youth and coach development are a big part of his remit. 

‘There has been a rapid development in football in China since 2009,’ he said. ‘The nation spends much attention on it, particularly on the younger players.’

Evidence of that is the brand new training facility on which the Chelsea Foundation coaching is taking place. Earlier in the week it staged a Beijing FA tournament contested by over 1,000 young teams.

Some of those players were back for the Chelsea coaching where as well as team play, they were encouraged to go away and learn some impressive individual skills and tricks.

‘The enthusiasm for football at this level has grown since the president of China, President Xi announced he wants the country to be a force on the international football stage with the ultimate goal to win the World Cup in future years,’ explained Ian Woodroffe, Chelsea Foundation international development manager.

‘The president’s announcement and support for the game has resulted in lots of new training opportunities, facilities and growth in participation all across China.

‘Sharing knowledge both ways is a big part of what we do globally. We are very open to gauging the different ways local coaches work on the ground and here we are delivering coach education every morning, followed by practical sessions with local players and in the afternoons there has been a range of presentations and discussions about how we work at Chelsea and in the UK

‘Openly engaging with coaches and players who want to learn and share is a core part of our international role while on tour. We hope the coaches take some ideas away to their communities and clubs as they continue on their journey as youth development coaches.’

‘It has been about engaging with those local coaches who want to learn and develop their own skills.’

Football in China is on the rise, and Chelsea are working hard to play our part.  

-          Click to read about the Chelsea Foundation’s activity in China last week in association with Plan International