There is no shortage of ambition and money to put soccer on China´s agenda as the FIFA 2018 World Cup in South-Korea is on the horizon. But there is no quick fix to makes it into the world league fast, warns soccer expert Rowan Simons in the South China Morning Post.
The South China Morning Post:
Rowan Simons, author of Bamboo Goalposts and chairman of Beijing-based grassroots outfit China ClubFootball argues that China won’t have their own Messi or Ronaldo anytime soon.
“It is virtually impossible for a Chinese superstar to emerge in mainland China. First, over 99% of kids in China do not play football,” he said.
“From the less than 1% who even play the game, statistically 0% receive high quality coaching at the earliest ages.”
That’s changing, in both terms of participation and coach education but there’s no shortcut for either. Simons goes further, though, suggesting that even with both in place the odds are small – an exceptional youngster would need to be spotted very early and quickly end up in a European academy for a chance to become world class.
Aside from the need for a truly world class player to drag the team forward, it has long been said that Chinese football needs a Yao Ming figure in order for the sport to really take hold among the general public.
“Forget Yao Ming, a Chinese superstar footballer would be the biggest star ever in world sport,” says Simons.
“China will go crazy and the pressure will be bigger than that faced by any athlete in history. The earning potential too.”
It’s not glamorous but it will work in the long run. In the meantime, China should be bidding to host the World Cup if they really want to make sure of their second appearance.
Are you looking for more stories by Rowan Simons? Do check out this list.