With an ambition to be a ‘world football superpower by 2050’, China’s Football industry has experienced exponential growth over the past few years. SRi’s Global Football Consultant Mike Rigg recently sat down with Sohu Sports in Beijing, to discuss how the Chinese Football industry can ensure the continuity of its success, and how it can overcome hurdles and obstacles it will likely face.
China’s large population, a strong desire shared by many to play football, coupled with their great facilities for football, puts China in a encouraging position to realise its dream to qualify for the World Cup. Whilst the development of the Chinese football industry is overwhelmingly positive, Mike Rigg explains the need for the effort of several generations to ensure the growing loyalty for football is permanent in China.
One of the major challenges, as pointed out by Rigg, is the underlying fact that football is a lifelong experience. As such, to achieve a professional level of football skills, dedication and commitment to the sport must be developed at a young age. Encouraging children to play outside, in favour of watching television or playing video games, is a challenge the Chinese football industry will need to overcome, much like its counterparts across the globe. Additionally, the popularity of other sports and activities may also be in conflict.
Moreover, children living in the over-populous cities of China, in particular Beijing or Shanghai, do not have access to facilities that allow them to play football. These crowded cities simply do not have the same facilities as other major cities across the globe, where football has been integrated into society and played, for a longer period of time.
Rigg emphasises the importance of the relationship between the Chinese Super League, the Chinese Football Association and schools in developing programs to provide children with the opportunities to develop football skills from a young age, and in the long run, develop better players.
In terms of the development of Chinese football clubs, Rigg strongly advocates the application of the three Ps; plan, process and people, when developing a club-specific plan. Rigg also highlights the importance of striking a balance to ensure said plan meets short term and long term goals – a responsibility usually entrusted to the Sport Director. Additionally, the Sport Director needs to ensure a link between the two worlds of football, the sport itself and its business side.
Rigg emphasises the future success of Chinese football clubs will depend on its executive of the three pillars; Recruitment, Development and Pathway.
To summarise, Rigg reiterates his commitment to sharing the best practice of the game with China, to continue to develop the globally appreciated sport.
Mike Rigg is SRi’s Global Football Advisor. Across four continents, Mike works alongside SRi’s High Performance team to undertake on the ground assessment, strategic football infrastructure building, coaching and consultancy services with football clubs, leagues and federations.