China's 'Football' Factory
More kids in the U.S. now play soccer than any other sport -- and its popularity is not just here.
Chinese super league teams have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on some of Europe's top soccer talent, and that investment is already paying off. But there's much more to china's push to boost its flagging fortunes on the soccer field, which they call football like Europeans do.
So billions of dollars are being pumped into the grassroots side of the game, specifically youth football academies.
Matt Rivers reports from the biggest football school in the world.
--REPORTER PKG-AS FOLLOWS--
THE VIEW FROM ABOVE THE EVERGRANDE FOOTBALL SCHOOL IS EXPANSIVE…50 PITCHES SPREAD OUT ACROSS SOME 160 ACRES IN SOUTHERN CHINA'S GUANGDONG PROVINCE....THE BIGGEST IN THE WORLD. IT'S AMBITITOUS TO SAY THE LEAST…A TRAIT MATCHED BY A YOUNG STUDENT FAR DOWN BELOW.
(He Xinjie, Student) "I want to play for the national team, and then play for Spanish clubs like Barcelona or Real Madrid."
HE XINJIE IS A SKINNY 14-YEAR-OLD MIDFIELDER FROM FUJIAN PROVINCE. HIS FAMILY DOESN'T HAVE A LOT OF MONEY, SO WHEN HE GOT A FULL SCHOLARSHIP TO EVERGRANDE 8 MONTHS AGO, HE DIDN'T THINK TWICE. FOR HIM, FOOTBALL IS LIFE.
(He Xinjie, Student) "I feel really lucky to be here. Otherwise I'd be in some normal school playing football on the side."
HE IS ONE OF OVER TWO-THOUSAND STUDENTS WHO LIVE ON THE EVERGRANDE CAMPUS. 80 PERCENT OF THEIR TIME IS SPENT INSIDE THESE ORNATE BUILDINGS, ATTENDING CLASS. THE REST OF THE TIME, THEY EAT TOGETHER, THEY LIVE TOGETHER, AND THEY TRAIN TOGETHER. COLLECTIVELY, THEY REPRESENT THE FUTURE OF CHINESE FOOTBALL.
(Liu Jiangnan, Principal, Evergrande Football School) "Our school's purpose is to improve football in China and cultivate football stars…while helping them grow as people."
PRINCIPAL LIU JIANGNAN SAYS HIS SCHOOL REFLECTS A GROWING TREND IN CHINA…FOOTBALL IS BECOMING MORE POPULAR.
(Matt Rivers, CNN) "Every saturday the entire school gets together and play each other in different matches. it's the kind of scene -- parents coming out to watch, young kids involved - that the government hopes gets replicated time and again across the country, as everyone gets invested in the sport."
PRESIDENT XI JINGPING, A BIG FAN OF THE BEAUTIFUL GAME, HAS LED A SURGE OF INVESTMENT IN YOUTH SOCCER. FOOTBALL IS NOW A MANDATORY PART OF SCHOOL CURRICULUMS AND THERE ARE PLANS TO HAVE 20,000 FOOTBALL-THEMED SCHOOLS UP AND RUNNING BY 2017. THE ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO WIN A WORLD CUP.
TO DO THAT, THOUGH, YOU NEED TO DEVELOP STAR PLAYERS. THAT'S THE TASK FACING PEOPLE LIKE SERGIO ZARGO, A SPANISH YOUTH COACH WHO MOVED TO CHINA 4 YEARS AGO AS PART OF A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE AND EUROPEAN HEAVYWEIGHTS REAL MADRID. WE ASKED IF HE HAS ANY FUTURE MESSI'S OR RONALDOS ON HIS ROSTER.
(Sergio Zarco Diaz, Football coach) "I hope so! But, we are not in a rush because we know that this is a process that takes time."
AS FOR 14-YEAR-OLD HE XINJIE, HE MIGHT NOT BE THE NEXT MESSI JUST YET, BUT THE NEXT TIME CHINA MAKES THE WORLD CUP…
SOUND UP ON SOT (5:27:29 AREA, SAYING SOMETHING LIKE 'I WILL BE A PART OF THAT')
HE SAYS HE'LL BE PART OF THE REASON WHY.
(Matt Rivers, CNN) "You're reminded of china's ultimate goal as soon as you arrive at the school. this replica fifa world cup trophy sits right out front its entrance. principal liu hopes that the national team might qualify for that tournament in the next 10-15 years and maybe even one day, well down the road, even win. Matt Rivers, CNN, Qingyuan , China."
Website Article: China Page, It's Chinese History, Football
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