China PR welcomes Live Your Goals

Since its launch in 2011, FIFA's Live Your Goals campaign has proved hugely successful when it comes to inspiring thousands of girls across the globe to play football. Now China PR, the world's most populous nation, is joining 21 other countries in embracing the initiative in 2016. Up to now, a total of 72 of the 211 FIFA Member Associations have signed up for the programme as they seek to promote the women's game at grassroots level.

One-hundred and fifty girls were present at Changchun last Friday as the country kick-started their Live Your Goals programme in the north-east city. This campaign, initiated by FIFA and the CFA (Chinese Football Association) during a workshop in Beijing this April, will run from 2016-2019, aiming to inspire 9,000 to 15,000 young girls. Not surprisingly, this year’s inaugural event alone is expected to reach over 3,000 youngsters. Organised by as many as 16 provincial and municipal FAs, the first edition lasts five weeks with 32 camps to be conducted in 18 cities.

As selected by the CFA, all these cities are home venues to teams competing in the Chinese Women’s Super League or the Chinese Women’s First Division and, understandably, the atmosphere is evident considering their strong fan-base. In a sense, the timing of the meeting couldn't be better, with the CFA announcing a long-term scheme early this year aiming to lift their footballing image, including moving the women’s game back among the world's elite.

"With our football reform at its full circle, the women's game is blessed with a rare opportunity for development," Wen Lirong, Vice-Director of the CFA Women Football Department, told FIFA.com. "Through the fine cooperation with FIFA and via the project of Live Your Goals, we can further promote the game among youngsters from across the country. It is where our dream begins and it holds special significance for the game's future."

Star struck As designed by FIFA and the CFA, each of the 32 camps this year includes basic training as well as interesting games, some of which are joined by parents. What strikes these young participants most, though, are a host of football icons who join them as ambassadors. Former Perugia and China PR midfielder Ma Mingyu was present at the camp at Chengdu, while China PR women’s national team star Zhang Rui found time to share her experiences with teenagers.

Adding to the festivity are a host of legends from the Steel Roses’ golden generation. Sun Wen, Fan Yunjie, Bai Jie and Liu Ailing, all of whom figured prominently in their runners-up finish campaign in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup™, also lend their weights by making it to the scene.

“I'm glad to witness more former players to join us in the programme,” Sun Wen, the FIFA Female Player of the Century, told FIFA.com. “As ambassadors, we can pass their knowledge, passion for the game to the young girls. With their help, the youngsters can better learn and experience the joy and changes that football brings about. They will grow up happily and healthily.”

The event came on the back of China PR's successful campaigns at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ and the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016, during which made the quarter-finals of both tournaments. To satisfy the hosts' thirst for advice on further development, Mayrilian Cruz Blanco from FIFA Women’s Football Development and FIFA instructor Hesterine de Reus offered a series of recommendations for the CFA in national team strategy, structure and youth development.

"China has a huge potential for growth and to become once again a leading nation in women’s football," Blanco told FIFA.com. "We will be working closely with CFA to develop a tailor-made strategy and ensure that it is implemented across the country. Live Your Goals is a key component to bring forward China’s huge potential, the programme will open opportunities to many girls across the country.”