Courtesy: Women of China/China DailyChinese Coach Strives to Realize Girls' Football DreamsApril 10, 2018
by Liu Yanmei
Though it may not be as pleasant as expected, Chinese girls' youth football coach Yao Bo drew meaningful lessons from his team's first overseas competition.
Yao's team ranked seventh with two wins and three losses among nine teams at the 2018 edition of the ISF World School Championship in futsal which wrapped up March 20 in Rishon LeZion, Israel.
"It was our first competition outside China, and we knew little about futsal. The result was not satisfying, but we enjoyed it. We are confident of making progress in futsal in the future," said Yao, who was the head coach of girls' football team at Tancheng No 1 High School.
Yao started his career as a physical education teacher in Tancheng No 1 High School in the small county of Tancheng in East China's Shandong province.
As a PE teacher in the early period of his career, Yao never forgot his childhood dream: to become a football coach. Yao's parents once sent him to practice martial arts and table tennis for fitness, but he came to realize that his interest stayed with football instead of other sports.
"I was not as tall as other students back then in middle school, but I ran fast. Even a few dribbles would thrill me," Yao told Xinhua. "It seemed I was destined to be a football coach, as I recall now."
In 2009, Yao, along with coach Jiang Qingchao, started to recruit girls from middle schools to build a team in his high school. Those girls didn't really know the game and nine dropped out in their first year.
They were scoreless in matches at the beginning, but Yao and Jiang were not frustrated by the setbacks and began to identify problems and find ways to fix them.
They made detailed practice plans for the girls about the fundamental strategies of the game and the two coaches also learned by watching match videos and taking coaching courses in order to find the keys to success.
"The hard work and effort did pay off. We began to win some games about one year later, so we felt we were heading in the right direction," Yao said.
In 2011, Tancheng No 1 High School's girls team placed first in the high school football league in Shandong province. Thanks to their persistence, a winning tradition was steadily set up, and the team has now won five championships.
Also, they were crowned China Schools Football Champions for the first time in 2017, which led them to the ISF event in Israel.
Headmaster of Tancheng No 1 High School, Li Nan, reiterated that football is a good way to educate young people about basic life skills.
"It is our privilege to have a role in the shaping of young people, so we always attach equal importance to good sportsmanship and athletic performance," said Li. "Meanwhile, we work hard to ensure our girls team leads by example not only on the field of play, but also in the classroom."
"Every time we go out for games or training camps, we are asked to take our books and study whenever time is available," said Yang Chuanli, a sophomore at the school and captain of the team.
No doubt the youth football in Tancheng is making strides. A few issues still remain, for example, the lack of qualified youth football coaches, and insufficient economic resources.
Xu Na, a member of the girls team in 2009, graduated after majoring in football at Henan University in 2016. Xu now teaches football in a primary school in Tancheng.
"I should say my choice as a coach comes from my high school coaches and their love for football," Xu said.
Yao got the chance to improve his coaching through training in France for three months in 2016 thanks to the Chinese government.
"The training was very helpful. I got familiar with pioneering football trends such as position-specific practice and counter-pressing," said Yao, a holder of an AFC C coaching certificate.
Along with the team's reputation, Yao has frequently been approached by big teams with more resources. "Of course, the offers are attractive, but I grew up here. Most importantly, I hope to make my football dreams come true where I started," Yao said.
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari