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Premier League and China strengthen football ties

21 Sep 2015

UK/China Football Forum commits to future collaboration between the two countries

The commitment of the Premier League to help develop football in China was strengthened on Friday at an event in north London.

The UK/China Football Forum, jointly organised by the British Council and The General Administration of Sport China was attended by Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong and celebrated the football relationship between the two countries, as well as exploring ways for future collaboration.

Football representatives from both countries discussed shared experiences and areas for development at the Capital City Academy, in Willesden. A friendly match also took place, featuring students from Tottenham Hotspur and the RDFZ High School in Beijing.

Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore described the work the League's clubs carry out in their communities, engaging young people in positive activities to affect social change.

Students from Tottenham Hotspur and the RDFZ High School in Beijing took part in a friendly match

"We have 2,500 people working in these separate club foundations across the Premier League and we are reaching about 550,000 young people every single year," he said. "There's a whole load of social development that can be done using the power of football and the attraction of the club name."

The Premier League has been working at developing football at the community level in China since 2009 through Premier Skills.

Over the last eight years, 1,100 PE teachers, school sports coaches and referees have been trained by Premier League coach trainers in 13 cities across China. These new coaches have used their new skills to work with more than 500,000 young people‎.

An example of how Premier Skills operates was highlighted on Thursday when the Tottenham Hotspur and RDFZ students were put through their paces by Premier Skills coaches at Tottenham Hotspur’s training ground.

Friday's friendly match, refereed by Premier League official Mike Jones, was played on the Capital City Academy’s 3G pitch, which was funded by the Football Foundation, a partnership between the Premier League, The Football Association and the Government via Sport England.

"Where we are is a great example of how we can harness the power of the Premier League, FA and the Government to improve facilities," said FA chief executive officer Martin Glenn.

Liu Yandong and Michael Owen kicked off the friendly between China and UK students

"We've created the Football Foundation, where targeting the most needy areas, we have a programme of building new pitches or improving old ones and that relationship and collaboration to improve the basic infrastructure of football, is working very well. We have a long way to go but we can only do it if we work in partnership.”

The Premier League also assists China at an elite level with a formal partnership being signed with Chinese Super League and Chinese FA to help improve the professional game in the country.

Michael Owen attended the forum and explained about the greater responsibilities elite players have beyond the field of play.

"Being a professional footballer means dedicating your life to every aspect of the job," the former Liverpool, Newcastle United and Manchester United striker said. "It's about a constant desire to improve, to be the very best.

"It's also about your attitude off the field and understanding and accepting the responsibilities that come with the role. Only when you put these ingredients together will you have a true professional footballer."

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