“Last November mid-table Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F signed an agreement to partner up with Dutch giants Ajax. The aim was to develop the best youth academy in China, helping the club and national team produce the finest players they can. The Champions League winners were responsible for providing coaching, while Guangzhou had to supply state-of-the-art facilities for the talent to blossom in.

The plan is to share their knowledge of developing a youth academy on a global level, which includes scouting, talent development and all supporting departments.

“It’s a long-term commitment we made with R&F of five years, but maybe we will need a couple more years because we have to start with the basics,”Engelkes, 65, revealed.

Although developing football skills is the primary focus for the young talents, they also have to take in normal school lessons, including learning English. 330 boys between 8 and 17 sleep, eat and study school subjects at the site, alongside their football development. The most promising kids are there on scholarships, while others have to pay to play.

So far, Guangzhou R&F’s football academy boasts eight football pitches and the kids are trained by Ajax’s best coaches.

The deal was signed off by Ajax CEO Edwin van der Sar, who was keen to grow the club’s brand in Asia. “It is good for Ajax to be partnering with Guangzhou R&F Football Club,” he said when the deal was announced last year. “In recent years, we have been quite active in the Asian market. Youth is the core asset of our club and we are delighted that we can leverage our knowledge with an international partner like R&F. It is well known that for a club like Ajax it is hard to grow in the current European football industry. With initiatives like Ajax Coaching Academy we create opportunities to make alternative steps forward.”

We’re happy to announce that Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao F.C. will participate in 2 of our tournaments in 2019: Varsseveld Tournament U17 & The Rotterdam Football Cup U15.

Get the full story on The Sun.

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