WA’s participation in a junior tournament in China will assist in strengthening ties with the booming Asian football and business market.
Football West has accepted an invitation to take part in the Jinshan International Youth Football Cup U16 tournament in Shanghai that will provide players with an exceptional football experience, while building organisational relationships with new Asian partners.
China, which is Australia’s largest trading partner, has made significant strides in football development in recent years under President Xi Jinping’s concerted push to improve standards.
The result has been unprecedented investment in football, including the signing of international stars such as former Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez and Brazilian ace Oscar to the Chinese Super League, and the development of world-class training facilities across the country.
Football West Chief Executive Officer James Curtis said the July youth tournament, which will be hosted by the Jinshan People’s Government, the Shanghai Jinshan Sports Bureau and the Shanghai Shenxin Football Club, was an important step in WA football’s relationship with Asia.
“The trip will be a unique sporting and cultural experience for some of Western Australia’s most promising young players that we hope will be the start of ongoing connections,” Curtis said.
“Football is the biggest game in Asia and, historically, Western Australia has looked to the region to provide strong opposition for our representative teams.
“The WA Amateur and Masters teams have made regular trips to South-East Asia over the years and they have developed good relationships with some of WA’s nearest neighbours in Malaysia and Thailand. The Shanghai trip allows WA football to reach a little further in developing football opportunities.
“In coming years, Football West will look to establish partnerships with China, India and South-East Asia to create more openings for touring teams to visit WA and for our teams to travel to Asia.”
The Jinshan tournament includes representative teams from Nigeria, Bahrain and China, as well as club teams from Spain and the Czech Republic, and host side Shanghai Shenxin.
Football West Head of Development Jamie Harnwell said the Jinshan tournament would bring the best out of WA’s talented U16 players.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for WA’s best 15 and 16-year-olds to test themselves on the international stage,” he said. “This tournament will provide players the chance to be involved in a professional environment 24 hours a day, which will be of tremendous value to their development.”
The competition will consist of two groups of four teams playing a single round robin with the top two teams from each group entering a knockout stage.