The Chinese Super League is currently taking a summer break due to the East Asia Cup but the fun hasn’t stopped for fans of Cantonese side Guangzhou R&F as the club have organised a series of activities to strengthen links between the fans, the club and the players.
This week there was an open training session at the team’s base in the Sanshui district of Foshan city which was attended by members of the media as well as over one hundred fans. Turnout was less than expected as even though the club arranged transport from central Guangzhou for the fans, the ninety minute coach journey proved too much for many.
Those who did go were able to catch a glimpse of new signing Eddy Bosnar in action; the Australian was played at centre back and was a commanding presence not just because of his height but also because of his voice.
After the training session was finished fans were able to get autographs and pose for photos with players and manager Sven-Goran Eriksson before brief question and answer sessions with Sven and in-form Brazilian forward Rafael Coelho. A couple of fans from each supporters group were then able to take penalties against three of the four goalkeepers in the R&F squad, including current number one Cheng Yuelei and Shi Xiaotian who found favour with ex-coach Sergio Farias. Your correspondent brought honour to his fans group by scoring all three penalties and walked away with a cub crested leather football as a prize.
All the R&F fans had earlier had a chance to demonstrate their footballing skills at a seven-a-side competition organised by the club. Each of the eight fans groups entered a team and after a series of matches over four Sunday mornings the fans group from Panyu (an area of Guangzhou) emerged victorious with the Guangzhou Union fans club coming second. The trophy was presented by Cantonese player Wu Pingfeng and in his closing speech club general manager Zhang Bin said how happy he was to see so many R&F fans coming together to play football.
The club have organised another competition for their fans although the focus of this one is on photography rather than football skills. 2014 season tickets and new cameras are on offer for those who can take pictures of the most passionate, the most beautiful and the cutest R&F fans before 25th August. The competition is not limited to season ticket holders but those wishing to buy a season ticket for the remaining six home games can now purchase one for only 200 yuan.
In between all of these activities aimed at retaining and expanding their fan base by showing their commitment to stay in the city, Guangzhou R&F have still found time to make a couple of deals in the transfer market. Brazilian midfielder Jumar was released to make way for Eddy Bosnar and three fringe players have been sent out on loan. Defender Gao Jiuling and midfielders Yu Guijun and Liang Yanfeng will all link up with China League Two side Qingdao Hainiu until the end of the season. The next time their former teammates will be in action is 1st August when they travel take on Shandong Luneng.