Danish legend brings new football academy to Shanghai
It’s no secret that China’s grassroots coaching system is badly under-developed and lacking interested participants. But is delighted to report there are a growing number of individuals dedicated to changing this. Ebbe Sand Soccer Academy – CETA Soccer was launched over three months ago and is based at the Shanghai Rugby Club’s premises in northern Pudong district. Their operations are still expanding and they carry out after school and weekend training sessions for players of ages 5-18.
The school has been established with some very serious credentials – Ebbe Sands was capped 66 times for the Danish national team and played 281 matches for Bundesliga side Schalke 04, where he was top scorer in 2001. He was Bundesliga “Player of the year” in 2001, and in 2008 named the greatest player to have ever played in the Danish Premier Division by the Danish paper Ekstra Bladet.
Working with Ebbe is 29-year-old Mads Davidsen who and has coached professionally for several years in his native Denmark. He’s been responsible for training B.93 Copenhagen’s youth teams and most recently was coaching the Brondby’s U19 team. The UEFA A coaching license-holder also gained a Masters in Communication from Roskilde University.
spoke to Mads about their plans for the academy and positive change they wish to bring.
Mads Davidsen: Our Academy is partnered with the China Elite Training Academy which is Shanghai’s and China’s best Tennis Academy. They have full-time employees and work together with the Chinese national team, so we have a real high performance team and an elite culture here.
My way of coaching can be described as a modern leadership style with focus on developing technically and mentally strong players who are able to think and act under pressure. To me, the development of the mental strength of the players is especially important, and in my eyes the mental aspect is a much underrated element of the football world today. Football is played with your feet but won with the inside of your head. If you acknowledge the importance and the effect of being mentally strong, one can move football players significantly further.
: Do you have any plans to expand outside of Shanghai?
ED: Right now, Shanghai is big enough for us, its like a big country in Europe, so our focus is here right now.
wishes Ebbe and Mads the very best of luck in their endeavour and hopes to publish more stories on their successes in the future.
Author: Cameron Wilson
UK trained journalist and long-time Chinese football observer Cameron Wilson has been writing about Chinese football since 2005 for various International and China-based news outlets such as Agence France-Presse, Goal.com, Shanghaiist, China Sports Review, That’s Shanghai, Time out Shanghai and City Weekend. In August 2010 he decided to launch a website dedicated to Chinese football as a central despository for all of his writings ont he subject.
He’s traveled all over China following Shanghai Shenhua as a fully paid-up member of its infamous Blue Devil’s supporters group.
His association with China stretches back over a decade, having first arrived in August 2000 to teach English for a year in a rural town a few hours northwest of Shanghai. He took in his first Chinese football match during this time – a 2-1 victory for Shanghai Shenhua against Dalian Shide. He went home to the UK in July 2001 but returned to China to live in Shanghai in 2005. Since then he’s been a Shanghai Shenhua season ticket holder and a member of the Blue Devil’s supporters’ club. The views expressed by him on Wild East Football may suffer from a slight bias to this effect.
He is also however, still very much a fan of his hometown team, Dunfermline Athletic. A “Par from afar”, as it were.
A passionate believer in the power of the beautiful game to build bridges between diverse peoples and cultures, he was the first foreign fan to travel with the Blue Devil fans’ club to an away match – a tremendous 3-2 victory for Shenhua over Beijng Guoan in September 2007.
Cameron speaks decent mandarin and can crack jokes in Shanghainese.