As the European Football Championships enter the knock-out stages a unique football programme starts in Stoke-on-Trent. Sixty coaches from across China have arrived in the City to start a 12-week football coaching programme delivered by Staffordshire University and Stoke City FC. The coaches arrive in the UK across China, from Beijing to Shanghai, from Xiamen to Tibet.
The coaches will learn all aspects of practical football coaching including undertaking several coaching qualifications during their stay. The aspects delivered by University and the Football club will include lessons in coaching, physiology, psychology, nutrition as well as practical classes in using GPS technology to monitor player work rates.
The coaching programme is prestigious being funded by the Chinese Government. The University/SCFC partnership is one of only three organisations in the UK that was approved by the Chinese Government, the other two being at Loughborough and Bournemouth.
This programme builds on the Universities growing profile and reputation in Asia. Head of International recruitment at the University Dr Lisa Blenkinsop commented “The International Office is keen to develop Staffordshire’s presence in China, particularly around Sports and Exercise, and we hope this is the start of a long-term relationship with the Chinese Government and SCFC. The selection of Staffordshire University as a host institution for the Chinese football coaches underlines the excellent opportunities – facilities and teaching expertise – available at Staffordshire University to potential Chinese students.”
The coaches will be staying in University state-of-the-art accommodation on its Leek Road campus which underwent a £3.5million refurbishment last year and they will be having lessons and practical classes at both Stoke City training ground and at the University.
As Dr Jacky Forsyth who is leading the academic aspects of the project for the University points out that this is important for growing links with China. Dr Forsyth says “the investment in football in China at the moment is incredible. Its promotion and development is a key part of Chinese government policy with billions being invested in the next 20 years at all levels from grass roots to elite. The programme being delivered by the University and Stoke City is important in developing the skills needed to improve football coaching in China.
Angela Smith from Stoke City FC adds “The Football club has very strong links already with China already, in particular with work we do with our coaches based at Western International School in Shanghai so we are used to delivering football coaching in the global marketplace. This programme will further raise the profile of Stoke City in South East Asia. It is also great to work with the Staffordshire University on this project, further supporting our partnership.”
The presence of so many coaches from across China completing such a high profile government-backed programme in Stoke-on-Trent also has economic benefits for the City. Acting Dean of Business and Law at Staffordshire University Dr Peter Jones states “One of the key outcomes of the city being European City of Sport is economic. By welcoming the coaches to the city and delivering a great programme we will further build the City’s business relationships with China and this will have economic benefits to the people of the City.”
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Details of the new Soccer Coaching and Performance degree at Staffordshire University can be obtained from Ashley.Gill1@staffs.ac.uk