Although the "European platform" was the brainchild of the China Football Association, it was Feng Jianming, CFA's Director of Youth Development, who was able to get the project off to a good start after more than a year's hard work alongside his German partners. Jianming spoke to FIFA.com about CFA's long-term blueprint for youth development.
FIFA.com: Why did CFA choose Germany or more specifically Bad Kissingen as China football's "European Platform"?
Feng Jianming: It has been our long-term goal to set up a European base but, to be honest, Bad Kissingen is a chance for both sides to benefit. One decade ago German football was popular in China with Bundesliga matches broadcast live. And when Chinese players began to play there, ratings only increased. Germany are three-time FIFA World Cup champions and their professional leagues have developed well, so we believe we can improve by learning from them.
As for Bad Kissingen, an overseas Chinese businessman Qin Xiaoming got in touch with us, and after more than one year's preparation, the platform was eventually launched in the form of the DCFA (German-China Football Association).
Who are sponsoring this project?
The German Football Association, Bad Kissingen government, and a number of local companies and organisations provided a great deal of support.
This project is definitely different from the Jianlibao team in Brazil that was sponsored by a home-based company. In terms of financial support, will the cooperation last long?
Just as we regard the football conditions and culture in Germany very highly, our partners have a high assessment of the potential of China's football market and commercial chances at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This win-win deal will definitely continue to produce results that benefit both sides.
What are the training conditions and facilities like there?
Without a doubt they are much better than those in Brazil as the Jianlibao example has given us greater knowledge in handling these issues.
Is this project compensation for China's failure to qualify for Germany 2006?
Certainly not. The idea came much earlier than our team's World Cup qualifying campaign. For us, the project is aimed at lifting our general football levels consistently in the long term.
Has the team achieved the expected results so far?
They have played a lot of friendlies with opponents in Europe and Argentina, including youth teams from Real Madrid and River Plate. Their improvements are obvious, but, you know, there are always areas where they can and should improve.
Eckhard Krautzun was named as the head coach of China's U-19 youth team, replacing Yin Tiesheng, just three months ahead of the FIFA Youth World Championship in the Netherlands. Do you think he has been given enough time to reorganise the team and prepare for the tournament?
Mr. Krautzun is an experienced and qualified coach and we believe he will do his job well.