Article by Luis Pinto

Nil-Nil is a column dedicated to football in China around the world

Ihave been asking my friends around China if the teams that they coach have regular competition and their answer has always been “no”.

Some of my friends and colleagues work in primary, middle and high schools (public schools) but the majority of the coaches I know work in private football schools. When I discuss the development of football with them we all agree that the Chinese football lacks competition at the younger ages.

My friends and I that are working in pub- lic schools have just a couple of competi- tion matches a semester; 3 or 4 games, depending on the team’s quali cation for further competition. Usually this competi- tion is local, schools that play against each others in a city tournament that may or not involve a regional/provincial championship. The fact is that having no real competition really slows down the development of the players, the teams and the football in gen- eral. Not having a competition match every weekend leads to a lack of motivation from the players during their weekly practice, and neither does it challenge them to learn and practice more by themselves., There’s no competitiveness inside the team itself to get better, to ght for the team, to put into play the knowledge they get from training.

In the private sector, the football schools also feel this problem, their players have no competition at their schools or clubs because there isn’t a national competition for them from the Chinese football associa- tion. The only way that they can do is play games between their own players that, many times, are from different age groups, or they organize some local tournaments that are sporadic and also between differ- ent age groups.

We all are trying our best to motivate and teach the players week by week, but, in the end, the lack of competition takes its toll and the development of the player and the team is affected by this condition. We are all discussing with the local authorities to help us in creating of cial competitions for the different age groups but I have the feel- ing there’s no real progress on that front. Maybe we need some powerful govern- ment of cial to take the initiative and be the one to order the football associations to start working together so that we can have it sooner than later.

Let’s continue with the official football news! The Champions league group stage is over and we have the results of the draw for the round of 16:

Who do you think will pass to the round of 8? Leave your choices on the comments for the NIL-NIL column on the Xianease website.

This December we also had the draw and schedule for the nal tournament – group stage Euro2016 France:

I have been in China on and off since 2007 and I have always told everyone that football is a huge market and that the Chinese education system could support a stable development of Chinese football with a model like the American model of competition between schools, divided by regions. Every school has the infrastructure to start local and national competitions. I believe it can be done, if we can all work together to learn about football and to teach it to the children then theywillbethefutureofanewChinesefootball!