Before Editing：As the saying goes, “Man who travels far knows more.” For the Chinese minor football players, many of them dream to go abroad and compete against and exchange with the peer echelon from the world’s top football club. With the help of O.R.G. Packaging and A.J. Auxerre Club, a minor football team in Hefei, Anhui Province, put the dream into reality on the 2017 TSF U14 Football Invitational Game.
On April 15-17, Beijing time, the 2017 TSF U14 Football Invitation was held in the city of Burgundy, France. In the three-day competition, the Kunlunshan-Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team, which was promoted by O.R.G. Packaging and A.J.Auxerre Club, competed against the world’s top football club U14 echelons, including French Lyon, West Ham United Football Club, Football Club de Metz, F.C. Tokyo, and A.J. Auxerre. The intensive and compact schedule not only provided the Chinese minor football players with a rare opportunity, but also enabled them to gain valuable experience in the fight with the top club’s professional echelons, and deepened their love for the football sports and culture under the rich French football cultural atmosphere.
TSF, the full name of Tournoi Sans Frontière, was founded in 1994 with the help of local football club Sens-Chaillots and volunteers, and is now the most prestigious minor international football event in France. Many players in the French national team have participated in the event, including Griezmann, Nasri, Ben Arfa, Kompany, and Valbuena. Prior to 2010, TSF’s main teams were from top clubs in France and Europe, followed by South American, Asian and North American teams. This is the first time a Chinese team appeared in this event.
Play on the field, and grow up in exchanges
As a campus football team that only trained two days a week, Kunlunshan-Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team faced the top three European clubs’ U14 echelon teams in the TSF group stage: French Lyon, West Ham United Football Club and Football Club de Metz. The difficulty can be imagined. (TSF system: 16 minutes each in the first half)
After the first match, the minor players fully realized the strength gap with the top teams in Europe, and also made them more prepared for difficulties of the next two matches. In the second group match, the Chinese minor football players were against the U14 echelon from West Ham United Football Club. Although the opponents knew how to make good use of their physical and speed advantages, the Chinese minor players were not without the power to fight in the confrontation. The experience gained from the first game was fully utilized by the minor players in the match. Finally, Kunlunshan-Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team only regretted the opponent with a score of 0:1.
In the third match, Chinese minor football players competed against the team’s last opponent, the Football Club de Metz U14 echelon team. Although they were twice netted by opponents in this game, it was undeniable that they were getting better and better on the court and became more and more confident.
After the three defeats, Kunlunshan-Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team ranked the fourth entered the second half of the group L, and began the second phase of the competition with French A.J. Auxerre and Servette FC. Although they were slightly lost in two matches, Chinese minor football players still scored the first goal in the match with Servette FC at 16:30 pm on April 15th, French time. What’s important, the goal was an equaliser from the start of the second half after a 0:1 defeat in the first half.
From a big loss at the start of the match to being braver after each fight and to the gradually narrowed score gap, the growth of Chinese minor football players was also fully reflected in the score changes in the first two match days. On April 16 of the third match day, Kunlunshan-Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team competed against the Tokyo FC and Sens-Chaillots. In the first match with the Asian neighbor Tokyo FC, the Chinese players came into the 0:3 loss, which really held their breath. In the subsequent match with Sens-Chaillots, Chinese minor players first saved the opponent’s penalty n the passive situation of losing a goal in the opening game, and then tenaciously equalized the score and dragged the game into a penalty shootout. Regrettably, the opponent’s goalkeeper played a brave role, making the Chinese minor players’ fail to attain their wish to win. Despite this, the Chinese minor players still displayed high fighting morale.
On April 17, local time in France, Kunlunshan-Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team ushered in the final match of the competition. Those Chinese minor players who had experienced the baptism of high-intensity events in the past few days played a brave role in this final ranking battle of honors. They finally defeated Slovakian opponent - Dac Dunatska with wonderful goals of 4:2, and gained a victory. As Stade Rennais defeated FC Nantes U14 with 1:0 in the U14 final and became the new champion of the TSF event, 2017 TSF U14 Football Invitational Game officially came to an end. After the game, Kunlunshan-Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team also won the fair competition award from the organizing committee.
For Chinese minor football players, such a high-intensity campaign is undoubtedly a huge test during the eight matches in three days. However, what’s gratifying is that although it is only a campus football team, it is impossible to compare with the professional echelons of these top clubs regarding training conditions, the better performance of these young players makes us believe that the future of Chinese football can be expected.
Extraordinary Experience, Happy Football and Full Harvest
If the exchanges and confrontation on the field allow Chinese minor football players to find their own shortcomings and gain valuable practical experience, the extraordinary experience of watching other teams’ matches and other non-minor football players from all over the world during the game make these Chinese minor football players have a deeper understanding of the French football culture.
During the game, the services and organizations provided by the French prestigious football event TSF had left a deep impression on these young players from China. Although it was not an adult football event, TSF attracted many local fans. Their enthusiasms for non-national players encouraged players to have a sense of intimacy at home. The careful arrangement of the organizing committee from the dining service to the atmosphere of the stadium not only allowed the players to feel the strong football culture, which stimulated their understanding and love for football, but also made these minor footballs enjoy the joy of the sport in the pure football world, exchange their experiences, and harvest precious friendships in the day and night.
Xu Zhihe, captain of Kunlunshan-Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team, said, “The training of foreign players is obviously better and the skills are better. They not only have solid foundation and flexibility foot skills, but also make use of their physical strength to steal balls, accumulated richer gaming experience and showed more mature cooperation abilities. it is more important to build confidence while the gap is found. In the confrontation with the strong team, we also find that the gap is not as big as imagined. There is still a chance to get better results in some matches. After this high level of competition, our team has more tacit understanding. We improve the training program through experience summary and tactical analysis, and we will further improve our level. More important, we notice that the players of different countries and different races are very friendly and truly borderless. We gather because of football, and we have made many friends.”
Mr. Dong, the coach of Kunlunshan-Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team, said, “Before participating in this game, we just had a match with the domestic U14 team. We went to France and played against strong teams such as Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus F.C. We hope that we can really understand the gap between the same age team and use through the competition. As a coach, we hope to learn the advanced training concept, the development direction of minor football, and the offensive and defensive trends through this competition, and verify our teaching ideas.
In addition, after the big score in the first game, the children feel better and better. Although foreign children can indeed use their physical and speed advantages more reasonably, we are not without the power of parry. I’m also quite satisfied with the overall performance of the players in the subsequent few games. The biggest gain is that we have found a gap through exchanges with international teams and strengthened our training ideas and concepts.
For children, they are confronted with insufficient chances of competition participation and unsystematic training. This high-level high-intensity competition left a deep impression on both the children and me. After the game, we shall continue to summarize the playing skills and styles, and fully absorb the experience learned from the game. Our team is already at the top level in Anhui Province, but this game let our players clearly understand their own shortcomings and room for improvement. ”
Mr. Chen, a teacher from Hefei Education Bureau of Anhui Province said, “Communication and study are the main tasks of our team to participate in this competition. Through this game, we have opened up our horizons and learned about the popularity of football and the mass base in France, and the football gap with European countries. Through exchanges, we learned the learning and training differences with European minor football players. The high level, strong intensity, perfect court, excellent services and simple degree are totally unanticipated. The establishment of our minor training system, consideration from the perspective of education, and proper allocation of learning and training time are our main problems. In addition, we also gain a lot regarding coaches, venues and funding through this exchanges.”
Secretary Zhang of Anhui Hefei Football Association said, “Participation in this game aimed at making the children of Hefei communicate with the international strong teams, and learn the minor training system, football concept and culture of such excellent clubs as A.J.Auxerre. During the three-day game, we deeply felt the difference with the other 23 foreign high-level club echelons, and also deeply understood the importance of the minor training system. Establishment of this system is a multi-faceted work. The team building works from coaches, athletes to referees are a systematic project. It matters not merely one team or one company. We have experienced the good organization of the event, as well as excellent minor referee and volunteer services. We also extend our gratitude towards A.J.Auxerre Club and sponsor O.R.G. Packaging who jointly offered thoughtful arrangements from accommodation, dining and other guarantees.”
Walk into A.J. Auxerre to Deep Know Minor Training Giant
Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team ended the 2017 TSF U14 Football Invitational Game and was well trained in battles with many of the world’s leading football clubs. Under the careful arrangement of O.R.G. Packaging and A.J. Auxerre Club, Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team entered the traditional French minor training team A.J. Auxerre Club, where it received the experiential subject training arranged by professional youth coaches. At the same time, they also visited and had an in-depth understanding of this football store with more than 100 years of history. These opened a window for the minor football players to understand the French football and culture and experience the first-class minor training system and professional player training concept.
After the high-intensity TSF battle, the minor football players from Anhui Hefei Minor Football Team came to the A.J. Auxerre Club in France on the morning of April 18 for physical recovery. The first-class physical recovery facility not only relieved their tired bodies and nervous nerves in the past few days, but also accumulated full energy for the minor players to meet the next experiential training.
The first-day experiential training subjects are quite rich. After completing the quantitative warm-up subjects, the minor players perform multiple sets of basic skills training, including click-to-center beam, force column, door post practice, corner kick practice, shot entry practice, and regional transfer exercises, and bouncing balls over obstacles. These seemingly simple basic technical training had created a lot of troubles for the minor players to successfully complete the training subjects, but also let the minor players appreciate the importance of the basic skills of the players in A.J. Auxerre and even the French minor training system. As A.J.Auxerre minor coach - David, who led the training of minor players, said, “The A.J.Auxerre minor training has higher requirements for the players’ basic skills. Considering that the children have just experienced a series of high-intensity matches, the subjects arranged today are actually a compulsory basic course for A.J. Auxerre minor players aged at 10-12.
This is not counting. As if to temper these Chinese minor football players, even the original comfortable weather turned into a sudden shower of rain and hail. However, the endurable minor players did not have the slightest stop, and still carefully completed each subject on the training ground.
Compared to the multi-subject continuous training on the first day, there was only one training subject on the second day - offensive special training. The training that day coincided with the Easter holiday in France. This made the original quiet training field much noisier. On both sides of the same course, one side was the training of Chinese minor football players, and the other side was the training test of French coaches. The rich football atmosphere also gave minor players a more intuitive experience of French football and culture. This was not to mention. A small player in the A.J. Auxerre minor camp also joined the Chinese minor players. Although they couldn’t communicate smoothly because of language barriers, their love of football allowed them to exchange on the court without any obstacles.
Led by Mathieu MELI, Marketing Director of A.J. Auxerre Club, the minor players opened the journey of discovery and experience. From team history to team glory, from the player locker room to the medical room, Chinese minor football players’ footsteps were left in all corners of A.J. Auxerre Club.
In the detailed explanation of Mr. Mathieu MELI, the football players had a clearer understanding of why French football could be ranked among the best in the world, and had a deeper understanding of the minor training system of A.J. Auxerre Club. As a group of data listed by Mr. MELI shown, there were 1 million new registered players in France every year, and 360 people could enter the A.J. Auxerre Club minor training center, but only 89 of them could become professional players. The yield of A.J. Auxerre Club seemed to be very low, but still higher than the French average rate.
For the minor football player who dreamed of becoming a professional player, the most concerned issue was the selection criteria of A.J. Auxerre Club minor training center and the training of minor players. Mr. MELI also gave the answer, “the selection age of A.J. Auxerre minor training center started from 14 years old, and the candidates were mainly selected surrounding A.J. Auxerre. Once being selected into the A.J. Auxerre minor training center, it meant that the players would accept the professional systematic training. In the whole training system, compared to the training of physical quality, the ideological training of A.J. Auxerre could achieve 60-70%. Of course, in order to ensure the players’ concentration, the minor training center implemented very strict time management, training and entertainment.”
After the end of the club’s visit, minor football players came to the restaurant of A.J. Auxerre Club and enjoyed a Chinese meal specially prepared for them. This made the minor players who had not tasted their hometown dishes since they went abroad very delighted. What excited the minor players more was that in the restaurant, they saw the active star of A.J. Auxerre Club and Matisse who just contributed 1 goal in the last Ligue 2.
At the last stop of the A.J. Auxerre Club, the minor players came to the Stade de l'Abbé-Deschamps, home of A.J. Auxerre, visited the team’s locker room and stadium office, and selected their favorite jerseys at the fans’ store.
In addition to the visit to the A.J. Auxerre Club, the French tour of the Chinese minor football players would certainly not miss the iconic landscapes with French cultural, historical, natural and humanistic features. O.R.G. thoughtful schedule also included St. Etienne Cathedral in the small town of A.J. Auxerre, Saint-Germain Abbey, the River Jonah, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Place de la Concorde, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, so that the minor players appreciated the French cultural history.
Although the 8-day trip to France was not very long, for the minor football players in Anhui Hefei, it is destined to be a precious memory that will never be forgotten on their football growth path. O.R.G. Sports and A.J. Auxerre Club will continue to work hard to create more opportunities to go out and bring in, and contribute to the development of Chinese minor football.