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Chengyang makes pitch for soccer success story

By HAO NAN | (China Daily) | 2021-11-30

The government of Chengyang in Qingdao, Shandong province, considers the development of soccer a core component in building the district into a happy and dynamic area, according to its blueprint for the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).

In the next five years, the Chengyang government will build more soccer infrastructure facilities, organize branded soccer events and activities with local characteristics, and introduce and train more professional players.

The district has compiled a special plan for the land use of sports facilities. Based on it, Chengyang has constructed a group of standard soccer fields, indoor soccer fields and sports parks to enable the public to play soccer and host high-end sports events.

Currently, the district has a total of 151 standard soccer fields, meaning it has 2.6 pitches per 10,000 people on average. Also, locals can reach a soccer field within a 15-minute walk and find exercise equipment within an 8-minute walk.

Xu Lihua, head of the district's sports development center, said one of this year's priorities is to accelerate the construction of a soccer stadium to be used for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. The event will feature 24 of the continent's best teams competing in 10 Chinese cities across the country during a monthlong tournament from June 16 to July 16 in 2023.

Four Chinese cities jointly hosted the 13th session of the Asian Cup in 2004, so the 2023 session will mark the second time that Asia's top soccer competition will be played in China.

The stadium held a groundbreaking ceremony in July last year, and has now completed roof-sealing on its main structure.

A high-standard supporting complex to be built for the Qingdao Baishawan Football Base is another highlight of this year's work, Xu said. The base is an important project for Chengyang to develop international youth soccer, so the district, supported by the Chinese Football Association and other resources, plans to introduce diverse soccer-related business formats to the complex, including rehabilitation, culture, exhibition and catering.

This year, it has invested more than 50 million yuan ($7.8 million) in sports parks, fitness trails and different kinds of soccer pitches. The district has also spent about 20 million yuan to upgrade 10 school soccer fields, which are now also open to the public for free.

Currently, Chengyang has 39 schools and 25 kindergartens with soccer education as one of their main characteristics. They are expected to play an important role in promoting the district's youth soccer development.

The district has also hired 60 professional coaches for these schools. Jiao Meiqin, vice-principal of Chengyang No 2 Experimental Primary School, said the initiative achieves a multiwin result and helped students save time finding coaches and also helped schools better develop soccer events.

In addition to fostering youth players, Chengyang has focused on introducing soccer clubs and training centers, and organizing professional events. In 2018, for example, the district hosted Gothia Cup China, one of the world's most successful youth-oriented soccer tournaments. The weeklong event saw 400 teams from more than 40 countries and regions competing with each other in nearly 1,000 competitions.

Other events held in Chengyang include the Sunshine Cup China-Japan-South Korea Youth Football Invitational Tournament, Qingdao Football Association City League and Qingdao Youth Football Tournament.

haonan@chinadaily.com.cn

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The soccer pitches in the Baisha Bay in Qingdao's Chengyang district are designed to help promote greater sports education in the area. CHINA DAILY