A FOOTBALL coach from Stratford College is helping give the beautiful game a kick start in the Far East.
Richard Pepperell, the college’s assistant head of department for sport, recently joined a delegation travelling across China – stopping at Shijiazhuang, Hebei, Changsha, Hunan and Beijing – as part of a football partnership project.
Supported by the British Council’s UK-China Innovation Challenge Fund, the £80,000 three-year venture will focus primarily on helping China develop its football coaching skills.
A diehard football fan, President Xi Jinping aims to turn his country into a football superpower, with the goal of winning the World Cup by 2050. His strategy is to get 50 million adults and children playing the game by 2020, by making football a compulsory part of the school curriculum and providing at least 20,000 football training centres.
On his return, Richard said: “This initial visit was really about forging friendships with our Chinese partners and gaining an understanding of the skill level of the students. We had training sessions with them and the footballing talent and level of commitment we saw were truly impressive.
“Who knows – maybe during the course of the project we’ll discover another Messi!”
Richard, together with another member of staff and two students from the college, will visit China again in October with the rest of the consortium team, to kick off the coach training programme.