Hainan, the Island of Aloha in China wants to become a tourist destination with a football academy as an attraction courtesy of Barcelona, Spain.
Futbol Club Barcelona (FCB) and Mission Hills Group today announced a landmark collaboration to make Hainan province a hub of football for China and the wider region. The two giants will jointly open a major football academy in Haikou, the island province’s capital city, in the coming months. At the same time, the interactive FC Barcelona experience area will commence operation today in preparation for its grand opening in 2017.
“FC Barcelona is delighted to be able to support the growth of the beautiful game in China and help you reach your goal of making this a great footballing nation,” said Josep Maria Bartomeu, president of FCB. “Opening our first 100% FCB-managed football school here in China is a huge commitment. It demonstrates our confidence in our partner Mission Hills and in the future of Hainan, as well as our optimism about the footballing talent we expect to find here.”
“Since 1992 Mission Hills has been helping to popularise sport and leisure in China — including our flagship sports of golf and tennis — and now we are devoting our efforts to football as well. Mission Hills has a grand vision to create a legacy for football in China through a partnership with one of the most-loved football clubs in the world. We believe our footballing dream can act as a platform for a future generation of footballers in China,” said Dr. Ken Chu, Chairman and CEO of Mission Hills Group.
President Xi Jinping, who is known to be a football enthusiast, last year unveiled a vision of China as a “world football superpower by 2050.” His plan calls for China to have 50 million children and adults playing football by 2020 and world-class national teams by 2030.
The partnership between FCB and Mission Hills will help meet these goals by raising the profile of the sport in China and by supporting its growth at the grassroots level. The historic partnership will also bring FCB closer to its fans in the region. The club is a pioneer of international football in Asia. It was the first club to open an office in Hong Kong in 2014 and today counts 14 Asian companies among its sponsors.
Tenniel Chu, Vice Chairman of Mission Hills Group, declared: “We are delighted to join hands with FC Barcelona. We believe that our passion for football among the 1.3 billion population in China is the key for future football development and we hope to share our values and experience with local talents in a humble way.”
World-first international FCB-managed football academy
In recognition of its size and importance, the FCBEscola in Haikou will be the first overseas FCB football academy directly managed by FCB.
The FCBEscola in Haikou will be staffed by FCB coaches and will follow the same training methods used by the FCB youth teams. It will have seven football pitches and will eventually be able to enrol 1,000 boys and girls aged between six and 18 years. The school opens its doors to its first students this summer, with its first full season training beginning in September.
FCB has transformed world football with a unique style of play that is much loved by fans. Bringing this style to the world, FCB is very active in developing football globally, with 25 overseas football schools offering training based on its methodology and values. FCB’s youth academy and professional training programmes are recognized as world-leading. Some of the game’s biggest current stars, including Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique, have come up through the club’s training programmes from a very young age. The club also holds the record for the most players with Ballon d’Or awards, with eleven, and the most FIFA World Player of the Year awards, with seven.
FCB Club Ambassador Ronaldinho, who is in Haikou to support the opening of the new FCB facilities, said: “I come from a footballing family, and my father and uncles were players. I still remember the lessons they taught me — about how to play football and how to be a good sportsman and a good person. I’m sure the FCBEscola here in Hainan will be as important to its students as my early coaches were to me. I look forward to interacting with the young players here and seeing some of them on the global stage in years to come.”
Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho played for FCB between 2003 and 2008, winning the FIFA World Player of the Year in both 2004 and 2005 and the Ballon d’Or in 2005.
World-class interactive FC Barcelona Experience Area
To help raise the profile of football, and of FCB in particular, FCB and Mission Hills are opening an interactive FC Barcelona experience area in Mission Hills Centreville Haikou, a major new tourism and leisure complex spanning 500,000 square metres that also includes five-star hotel accommodation and international restaurants, shops and entertainment brands.
With the grand opening scheduled in 2017, the 7,000-square-meter FCB facility will offer visitors immersive and interactive experiences to bring people closer to the Barça brand, highlighting its stars and their stories, as well as the legendary club’s history, philosophy and values. It also offers official FCB merchandise and includes a food and beverage outlet.