Great success for Vision China's new "city clubs"

A China Football Development Conference will be held in Qingdao on 25 April as part of the Asian Football Confederation's Vision China project. The masterplan for developing and promoting football in China has made rapid strides after being implemented in Qingdao and Wuhan and this has encouraged the AFC and the China Football Association to hold the conference and introduce Vision China to 15 other football designated cities.

The conference will report on the status of Vision China and the success of the Qingdao and Wuhan projects, discuss and agree on the objectives of, and strategies for, the expansion of Vision China and football development in China, gain stronger and sustainable support for Vision China and football development in China from all levels - government, Ministry of Sport, Ministry of Education, business sector, media and the public.

AFC President Mohamed Bin Hamman and General Secretary Dato Peter Velappan will arrive in Qingdao on the afternoon of 24 April where they will attend the Qingdao City League Awards night. Following the next day's conference, the AFC officials will travel to Wuhan to attend the Project Wuhan School Football Awards Ceremony after attending a Wuhan School League match.

The AFC has already summarised the successful "metro" club model that has emerged in the Wuhan City League competition. Dong Feng Honda (DF Honda) Football Club, an amateur outfit founded by DF Honda Ltd in 2003, has set a successful precedent by staying in the top three since their second place finish in the 2005 season. DF Honda was also named the Best Club of the Season.

"A successful performance on the field is essential for building a successful club,” DF Honda’s general manager Liu Yvhe told the AFC's website. “Considering the realistic situation in China, I called up most of my players from different football schools, offered them not only a daily internal company job, but also a real chance to extend their football dream. We are working hard on building our own football culture and promoting football in grassroots rather than building an expensive club with short financial life-expectancy. Those players could have a monthly salary from their regularly job, plus a certain amount of allowance for the time involved in any competition and training. By doing that, we are running our first team and reserve team with 30 players each without any financial burden. That certainly insures our club’s financial and performance stability ...

"The Wuhan City League ... is a perfect platform for a grassroots football club like us who is looking for more playing time in a well organised league with healthy competition structure. We will also improve our performance within the City League as more football talents are discovered," he added.

The "metro" club concept may be a model for other emerging markets. Clubs are fundamental to football, both to play in competition and to develop football talents," said Brendan Menton, Director of AFC National Associations. "One of the big success of Vision China in its first year is the creation of many football clubs in both Wuhan and Qingdao.”

See also: Second phase of 'Vision Asia' in two Chinese cities (13`Dec 05) and Corruption threatens football growth in China (22 Jun 05)