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Feyenoord is breaking new ground in China. The club signed a strategic partnership agreement with Viva China in the Chinese capital Beijing on Tuesday to set up a Feyenoord Viva Football Academy in several cities in the country. Through the partnership with Viva China, a private company, Feyenoord hopes to be able to make a substantial structural contribution to the development of football in China. Encouraged by the government, football is currently experiencing exponential growth in China.
Feyenoord and Viva China have signed a five-year partnership deal, which includes an option to renew for a further five years. Feyenoord’s commercial director Mark Koevermans signed the contract on behalf of the club in Beijing on Tuesday in the presence of a large Chinese media contingent, together with president and CEO of Viva China Li Ning, a former gymnast who is one of the most successful Chinese Olympians of all time.
Training Chinese coaches
Viva China’s goal is to promote a healthy, sports lifestyle among the Chinese population. The company builds sports parks throughout the country to make sport accessible to all Chinese, both top class and recreational. With the introduction of the Feyenoord Viva Football Academies, football will also be offered in these parks from 2019-2020.
Feyenoord will initially advise Viva China on the construction and development of football facilities at the Li Ning Sports Parks, as the facilities are officially known. In the long run, several Feyenoord coaches will base themselves in China. Their job will be to convey the football vision of the successful Feyenoord Academy, put together training programmes and, most importantly, train up Chinese football coaches in accordance with the Feyenoord vision. The long-term ambition of Feyenoord and Viva China is to open a Feyenoord Viva Football Academy in seven cities.
‘World-class training programmes’
‘We are delighted to have been able to enter into a strategic partnership with Feyenoord,’ says Viva China CEO Li Ning. ‘Thanks to the efforts of the Chinese government, football has already become much more popular in China. The partnership with Feyenoord is another important step for us in the continued development of football in our country.’
‘Thanks to Feyenoord’s international reputation, knowledge and experience, we will be able to offer high-grade world-class training programmes to all types of sportspeople, from talented youngsters to recreational footballers. We are dedicated to promoting participation in football together with Feyenoord in order to contribute to the long-term development of the sports industry in China.’
‘Very proud of this partnership’
Feyenoord’s commercial director Mark Koevermans expressed great satisfaction with the partnership between Feyenoord and Viva China. ‘It has always been our goal at Feyenoord to spread our football philosophy around the world and train coaches in accordance with this philosophy. We already do that in many places around the globe, from Cuba to South Africa and from Canada to Egypt, but an international partnership of this magnitude is a first for us. We are thoroughly looking forward to contributing to the development of football in China, where it is an increasingly popular sport.’
‘This partnership provides us with a foundation ina renowned party in China. This is a fantastic partnership not only in terms of football, but also financially,’ says Koevermans of the multi-million dollar deal with Viva China. ‘As a club we never talk about amounts, but this partnership will markedly boost our budget over the next few years. In the long term, as well as football this partnership may also offer Feyenoord many commercial opportunities, which we will examine going forward and will hopefully be able to capitalise on in the long run.’
Fleshing out ideas in 2018
Over the coming year Feyenoord and Viva China will flesh out their plans and decide which city will host the first Feyenoord Viva Football Academy. The intention is for the first football facilities to be integrated into the Li Ning Sports Parks in 2019-2020, at which point several Feyenoord coaches will move to China.