Chinese soccer talent raised in Brazil shows the cooperation between BRICS countries
Global Times


A young Chinese players sent by China's Shandong Luneng Football Club carries balls after a training session at the Luneng Brazil Sports Center on December 13, 2017. (Photo: VCG)

About 120 kilometers west to San Paolo, Brazil, sits the quiet town of Porto Feliz, which has a population of 50,000. 
The small town is closely involved in the development of China's soccer.
In 2014, China's soccer giant Shandong Luneng Taishan Football Club launched the Luneng Brazil Sports Center in Porto Feliz, aiming to help young Chinese athletes maintain their talents in Brazil's scene.
Players of 13 years old and above can go to Brazil to train for short or long periods, and have opportunities to play in Brazilian leagues.
Shandong Luneng Taishan Football Club claimed the Youth Academy of the Year Award of the Asian Football Confederation on Tuesday.
With five years of management, the center has helped hundreds of young players start careers in Brazil and made a great contribution to the China-Brazil people-to-people exchange.
Setting off
In March, 19 players from Luneng's U16 team, bid farewell to Luneng's soccer school in Weifang, East China's Shandong Province.
They then began their journey of training in Luneng Brazil Sports Center. In the following year, the young Chinese players would live together with their Brazilian peers. 
A total of 54 games have been arranged for them. High-level youth training coaches were hired to help them progress. Chinese coaches and teachers directly accompany them and provide culture education.
In the past five years, the club has sent more than 200 players to Brazil and Europe to hone in their soccer abilities.
Xie Wenxi, captain of Luneng U18 team, said in July that the experience of training in Brazil has helped him a lot. 
"I was not used to Brazil at the beginning. But after some communication and matches with local players, as well as our own efforts, we gradually get back our status," he said. "We progressed during matches and improved strategic skills."
Far away from home, the young players are grateful when the cooks in Brazil made them Chinese dishes such as tea flavored eggs and sugar pies.
"China's strategists decided to unpick the secrets of Brazilian football so that the next generation can get the missing edge," read an AFP report on Luneng's Brazilian soccer center.
"This exchange was created so that they can achieve a similar quality to that of the players here," Desportivo Brasil technical coordinator Rodrigo Pignataro told AFP. "They are very disciplined, but they lack nous, cheekiness and flexibility and autonomy. That's what the Brazilian boys have."
Step by step
Luneng boasts one of the best youth soccer player training systems with the best facilities and coaches in China.
In 2014, to further upgrade its youth training system, Luneng purchased Desportivo Brasil club in Porto Feliz in 2014 and made it a fully developed training center in Brazil.
In September 2014, the first 33 players set off from China to Brazil, which marked the beginning of Luneng's overseas youth training strategy.
The Luneng Sports Center in Brazil is 160,000 square meters in area, with seven training areas. The complex has housing accommodations, offices, cafeterias, fitness rooms, swimming pools and other rooms of different functions.
The sports center can serve a maximum of 192 players to live there, according to a statement Luneng sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.
The center has 25 employees for administration.
The club has about 160 players, covering the teams of U14, U15, U16, U17, U20 and a professional team. Among them, 120 are Brazilians. In 2018, the club from Brazil sent 17 outstanding young athletes to top clubs in Brazil and Europe, including the FC Porto in Portugal and PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
Earlier this year, the Luneng Brazil Sports Center was awarded with the golden prize for excellent youth training by San Paolo soccer association. 
Luneng's full-time soccer school in Weifang was opened in 1999 and has 26 training pitches including 19 with real grass. The school provides language lessons in Portuguese and English since seventh grade, so that young players could better adapt to future training and career in Brazil and Europe.
Luneng has also hosted many tournaments, such as its Weifang Cup, in which the school invited world-class youth teams to compete with young Luneng players, Tan Zhaohui, deputy general manager of the Shandong Luneng sports culture branch of the State Grid Shandong Electric Power Company, told the Global Times.
The school is also successful in sending talent to professional leagues. Among the more than 400 registered players in the 2018 season of the Chinese Super League, 46 came from the Luneng soccer school.