Guangzhou R&F have endured a difficult start to the Chinese Super League this season but have announced a rare piece of good news. Along with Chelsea FC of the English Premier League they are opening a football school in Meizhou.
Once completed the school will boast thirteen playing fields as well as other training and educational facilities and will cover 250 acres of land in Meizhou, Guangdong Province. The centre will use Chelsea Youth Academy materials and coaches to help develop the young, talented footballers at the school but will also offer a standard education to help the children should their football careers fall through. Enrollment has now started to find the 200 nine to twelve year olds who will attend the school when it opens in September 2013 although from the video it’s not clear whether the school is yet ready to accommodate them.
Speaking in Guangzhou’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel at the official launch event, Ron Gourlay, the Chief Executive of Chelsea, said “After months of planning, it is fantastic to see this exciting project come to fruition. Chelsea Soccer School China will be the perfect venue for Chelsea’s experienced coaches to run training sessions, and for young people to train the way Chelsea’s players do. I am confident that a legacy will be left here for years to come.” The project was also given good wishes by John Terry who is himself a graduate of Chelsea’s academy system.
City rivals Guangzhou Evergrande also announced the opening of a football school in partnership with a European giant this year. The Evergrande-Real Madrid Football School will be considerably larger than R&F’s and aims to enrol 3,150 students in its first phase.
Neither of these ventures are low cost or short term commitments, R&F’s school has been planned since 2011, nor will they offer short term gains. Hopefully they will both aid the development of football in South-East China and, in the long-run, allow it to challenge the North-East of the country in terms of domestic player production.