From Pitches in Asia – Report from JFA Coaches/Instructors Vol. 69: OKU Takeshi, Chengdu Football Association Academy U-12 Technical Director
30 September 2022
I started working at the Chengdu Football Association (Chengdu FA) Academy in 2021 as part of the JFA overseas coach dispatch programme, and from 2022 I continued to work with Mr. AMANO Keisuke, who is the Academy U-15 Technical Director, to strengthen and develop the Academy's U-11 to U-17 teams, train coaches, build a development system, and train grassroots coaches.
This year, the Sichuan Provincial Games, a quadrennial competition held in each of China's provinces, took place from late July to mid-August. This tournament was regarded as the most important event of the year for the Chengdu FA, and we were able to win in all categories we were involved with; boys U-12 to U-17, girls U-14 and U-15.
Game environment for the junior age group
In Chengdu, eight-a-side football leagues (U-12 league: 21 teams, U-11 league: 27 teams) played on artificial turf are held on the weekends for the junior age groups. In June, we observed a tournament in which each district formed a selected team for each age group, from primary school to high school, to compete in a league. For the U-11 and U-12 age groups, teams are able to play 30 to 40 league matches organised by the Chengdu FA each year. In addition, all training facilities feature multiple grass pitches, and such high-quality football infrastructure is one of the major strengths of Chinese football. On the other hand, there seems to be a tendency for some coaches and adults are involved in ways that hinder the development of children's decision-making skills and independence. In order to continue to develop talented players and football professionals from Chengdu, we feel that it is necessary to continue to train grassroots coaches and improve the environment for the junior age group.
Team activities at the Chengdu FA Academy take place in the evenings. Every day, we work with our coaches to improve the quality of our coaching. The process of understanding the differences in ideas, language, culture and experience with the Chinese players and coaches and building a trusting relationship with them feels like a formative coaching experience, which I continue to learn from every day. This year, I was in charge of a training course for local coaches and nursery staff, teaching them how to coach the kids' age group and the importance of grassroots football. I was greatly inspired by the grassroots coaches and teachers' genuine passion for football and the development of children, as well as their willingness to learn. Together with my wonderful colleagues, I will do my best to contribute as much as I can to the development of football in Chengdu.
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