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Comparisons, Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Learn about China

Football in China

InternChina - National Football Team
InternChina – Chinese National Football Team (source)

Before coming to China I expected Kung Fu (功夫 gōngfu) to be omnipresent. It just seemed so obvious to me, having learned everything I know about China from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Kung Fu Hustle. In retrospect that was probably not the best way to get to know the true Chinese culture. However, upon arriving at my host family my host brother immediately asked me if I played football (足球 zúqiú). I soon realised that football is in fact the most popular sport in China (real football, not the American kind). Nonetheless, I was undeterred and I tried to find a place to do Kung Fu. However, my road to success was made even more difficult by the fact that every time I asked someone where I could find a Kung Fu gym they said just go to one of the football courts and play some football. In the end I found a Kong Fu gym, but I was intrigued by the enormous popularity of football, despite the lack of international success at this sport.

InternChina - Shaolin Soccer
InternChina – Shaolin Soccer (source)

So I researched and what I found surprised me. Not only does FC Barcelona have a training facility in Qingdao, the city I was placed in by InternChina, but a football academy has been set up in a Shaolin temple with the intent of incorporating football into Kung Fu. Yes, you read that correctly Shaolin Soccer is now a real thing. On one hand, the school is trying to increase the reputation of Shaolin Kung Fu on and increase the football skill of the citizens. On the other hand, they are combining the physical prowess the monks gain through rigorous training with the precision required to be a good footballer.

In fact this is all part of an effort to raise the standard of the national sport, because although it is the most popular sport in China, the national team is spectacularly bad. I was forced to witness this when watching international friendlies with my host family at dinner. The women’s national team is comparably good on the other hand, reaching the quarterfinals in the last world cup albeit receiving much less public attention. This success is probably a result of football being introduced into the curriculum from a very young age. Previously, talents did not receive the attention they needed in order to prosper into the potent footballers they could have been due to being occupied with school all day all week up to the age of 16. When this problem became apparent though, football was incorporated into daily school life and many schools now have football grounds.

InternChina - Statistic PremierLeague vs Chinese Super League
InternChina – Premier League vs Chinese Super League statistics (source)

This national initiative to become better at football, promoted by the eager football fan and president of China Xi Jinping, also consists of an increase in transfer funds in order to secure top players in the Chinese Super League, the top tier football league in China. Much of the money probably comes from wealthy businessmen trying to amass political power and general reputation – corruption is a big problem in Chinese football, too. In the 2016 winter transfer window the Chinese Super League spent more than the Premier League. This is more than the Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga and Ligue 1 leagues combined on transfers last year, to record sum of £194 million.

Not all of the money was spent domestically but big clubs also tried to secure international top players. The striker, Alex Teireira, Liverpool’s top target for this winter’s transfer season, was indeed snatched by Jiangsu for the Asian record fee of £38 million. Among the pantheon of world class players recruited this year are names such as Jackson Martinez (£31 million), Ramires (£21 million) and Brazilian striker Elkeson (£13.9 million). Each of these transfers successively broke the record for the highest transfer fees. Cahill, Demba Ba and Gervinho already call the Middle Kingdom home. Oscar was offered £75 million to join Ramires’ Jiangsu, but decided to stay at Chelsea (with Jiangsu he would at least have a chance of winning a trophy this year). The high salaries also add to the lure of the Chinese Super League. Asamoah Gyah earns £243,000 a week, which made him the 8th highest player at this point in time.

InternChina - Smug Grin of one Alex Teixeira
InternChina – Smug Grin of one Alex Teixeira (source)

At the moment most top players are South-American mainly due to the millions they are offered in China. As they are chiefly from poor families they do not care much for the prestige of the European league. This is very different in Europe where football players are not only chasing the next pay check but also the glory that is so deeply embedded in the football culture. For this reason European players only tend to leave Europe when they are approaching retirement whereas many South-American talents are going to China early on. South-American players near retirement are more likely to go to China, whereas European ones prefer destinations such as the USA. This is likely change, as Xi Jinping has announced that China would be a major footballing nation by 2025 and Rooney, Fernando Torres and Yaya Touré have all been linked with China.

InternChina - Xi JinPing aka Football God
InternChina – Xi JinPing aka Football God (source)

The interest is bilateral though and top clubs such as FC Barcelona have opened academies in China, trying to turn quantity into quality. Some of the biggest European clubs, such as Atletico Madrid are now partially owned by Chinese billionaires who have gained interest in the European football hype and want to secure some of that footballing glory for themselves. Xi Jinping is reportedly a huge ManU-fan (god knows why).

The biggest competition to the Chinese Super League in terms of emerging football markets is the Major League Soccer in the USA. Both Leagues are relying on and prosper by snatching talent from European top clubs. In order to be more attractive for foreign players there is no wage cap on foreign players, whereas in the US only three designated players are allowed to earn more than the maximum cap. Legislation in China is also ever-changing in order to accommodate foreign players. 10 years ago there could only be 3 foreign players per team, now 5 players are allowed.

Considering all these different factors China has the potential to become a major player in international football. This is not limited to the clubs though, but it also includes the national team that is ever-improving. I guess only time will tell, but definitely look out for China in the next few years! You might have to buy plane tickets to China in the next few years as Xi Jinping has voiced interest in hosting (and winning) a World Cup.

InternChina - Shaolin Soccer Player In Action
InternChina – Shaolin Soccer Player In Action (source)
Chinese Traditions, Cultural, Discover Chinese culture, Learn about China, Understanding Chinese culture

Sports in China

If you think about a sport in China, you probably think about Kung Fu or Ping Pong is that correct? Well as years have passed, China has really gone through an evolution when it comes to sports. China is always a gold getter during the Olympics. This is because of the investment they make in the youth by providing them with a hard working mentality while they are just children.We decided take a closer look at this mentality on sports in China.
sport1

First of all, there is a large variety of high-level sports that China excels in. Here are just a few examples: badminton, basketball, tennis, football, gymnastics, tennis, etc.  All these sports are being funded by the Chinese Government to stimulate the youth in being active during their studies. It is even mandatory for every school to have small sessions of activities in the morning and sometimes even after lunch. While crossing the streets here in China it is not a surprise to see many companies or restaurants doing some type of activities with their staff. This provides the staff with a healthy dose of daily exercise. The government has also placed a lot of public exercise locations, which are most of the time occupied by the elder. When you walk down the streets of China in the evening, the chance of stumbling upon a group of elder people practicing Tai Chi is very high. As foreigners this is something completely new to see. While we are studying we can choose if we want to go for sports or not. Maybe this is something to be jealous about?

sport2

We love to see China pushing the youth and the elders towards a more healthy and productive way of living. The Chinese people have a much wider selection of sports than 10 years ago. Instead of just seeing Tai Chi, you see everyone playing soccer, badminton, volleyball, basketball, etc.. Who knows what sports we’ll see in 2020? What kind of investments will the government make to keep stimulating the youth? Some of them might even have a chance for an Olympic title in the future. Time will tell !

 

Before your stay, Cultural

InternChina Movie Time – Part 3


 

Shaolin Soccer
by Xavier

Plot:
Shaolin Soccer (2001) is a movie about a guy called Sing, who is a former Shaolin Kung Fu Master. One day he meets Fung, who was a famous soccer star, but was betrayed by his friend Hung who also broke Fungs knee, thus ending his career.
The ex-soccer player helps Sing reconcile with his five brothers, who also became Kung Fu Masters, and teaches them soccer, adding Shaolin Kung Fu. Sing’s specialty is the “Leg of Steel” and the whole team is using their martial arts skills to their advantage.
Together they enter a big soccer competition and appear to be unbeatable, until they meet Fung’s arch-enemy and his team: Team Evil…

Why watch this movie:
As I write this, I have watched Stephen Chow’s Shaolin Soccer for the amount of times relative to my age (Editor’s note: Xavier is 22). And I still enjoy every single minute of it. Also after you watch this film you will know the funny side of Chinese. Also, this film was the first movie which used the Chinese Kung Fu & Western sports mixed together. There’s something about this movie that attracts me to watch it every single time it is playing on TV, and I’m still trying to figure out what exactly it is. In my opinion, what makes Shaolin Soccer the best film ever made in the history of films, is simply the cast and the variety of characters. No one else is able to step into the role of “Golden Steel Leg” so effortlessly like how Stephen Chow did. Put in “Golden Hammer Head”, a guy who breakdances while juggling a ball, a flying fat man…and you will get the best movie there ever was. So basically, why you should watch it is because it is a great way to learn something about Chinese humor, the movie is a genre-mix and making fun of all the old Wuxia movies (that’s the old martial arts movies) and it is about one of the world’s most favorite sports!

Learn more about Chinese humor with Xavier and come to Zhuhai! Apply directly orsend us an Email! We hope to hear from you soon!

Picture taken from:
https://www.unionfilms.org/films/reviews/siu-lam-juk-kau-shaolin-soccer.html

Things To Do in Zhuhai, Travel, Weekend Trips

广东日之泉足球俱乐部 – GUANGZHOU FOOTY GAME WITH LIVERPOOL FC

你们好 mes tendres chouchous!
Alors…

Last night Jamie (the big bad boss of the Zhuhai office) and I made pilgrimage to Guangzhou, the capital of the Guangdong province, about 2 hours north of Zhuhai to see Liverpool FC’s start to their 2011 Asian tour. While I am not a big fan of footy, I am a huge fan of random experiences and this fit the bill perfectly. We took the new, high-speed rail from Zhuhai north to Guangzhou south and then took the also new metro system right to the stadium. While we had originally been expecting that the turnout would be low, there were thousands of fans around the stadium, eagerly queuing up to enter. Surprisingly enough, the Liverpool fans (I am assuming that if they were sporting a Liverpool jersey, they were a “fan”) outnumbered the Sunray Cave FC (the Guangdong FC – 广东日之泉足球俱乐部) at least two to one.

Upon entering the stadium, the police confiscated my war drum (see photo of the big empty water jug). I was heartbroken and crestfallen – but still managed to make quite a bit of noise despite being deprived of my war drum!

It was an exciting match, with Liverpool winning 4-3 over Sunray Cave FC. SCFC did manage to get in two goals in the last few minutes of the game, at the dismay of the Liverpool fans.

After failing to get a taxi (Guangzhou is notorious for its lack of supply of cabs!), we got a bit lost in an odyssey of aimlessly wandering on foot along with some (very) unhelpful metro directions. Despite our hardships, we finally made it to our final destination: Chinese outdoor BBQ (THE BEST!) along with the infamous dice game!!!

The rest is hazy.

I am off to Chengdu in the Sichuan province tomorrow (flying from Guangzhou airport – can’t get enough of that city!) so expect another blog post come Monday!!!

Enjoy the photos

Bacioni fortissimi dappertutto

Michæl