Women's game receives fresh impetus in China
Top Chinese clubs will be required to have women's teams established by 2020
Fresh policies timed to begin in FIFA Women's World Cup year
CFA boss elaborates on long-term vision
A promising year begins with a good start in the spring. Just as the Chinese proverb goes, a new policy has recently been unveiled by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) which is aimed at further developing the women's game for the forseeable future and beyond.
In the new edition of "China's professional league entry regulations", all clubs from the top flight - the Chinese Super League - are required to have their women's teams established by 2020. These newly-founded teams will compete in the Women's Super League and other divisions. Considering the boom in the CSL over recent years, the new policy is expected to provide a massive boost for the women's game in the world's most populous country.
"China has a glorious past as well as a strong tradition in the women's game," CFA acting president Du Zhaocai told FIFA.com. "The Steel Roses spirit has long been the inspiration for our development. In order to relive old glories, we have recently announced fresh plans focusing on promoting women's football by enhancing the organisation and management, youth development, competitions, coaching courses, etc.
"Of course, one of the key components is to promote the professionalism of the women's game,” he continued. “We have noticed that quite a few of the world's most successful clubs have women's teams as well and boosted by successes of the men's teams, their women's teams have developed fast and achieved tremendous successes too.
"This is a pattern on which we can model our women's game. So we have decided that each CSL side should have a women's team by 2020 so the men's game will lend their strengths to the women's game."
This club policy is allied with a series of other plans, all of which are aimed at lifting the women's game. Du explained: "At grassroots level, we draw experiences of the USA which is to develop the game at schools level, particularly building the universities and colleges leagues. Furthermore, we will seek support from all walks of life and launch funds for the women's game.
"At national team level, we have brought a competitive system by launching both a first team and reserve team. So the players will compete for the right to play. With the reserve side complementing the first team, the youth teams of U-20 and U-17 will play the role of providers to the senior team and all these national teams will develop under the identical technical and tactical guidelines."
Ambitions for Women's World Cup year The timing couldn't be better given the new policy begins in a year during which the FIFA Women's World Cup™ will be held. For Du, the global showpiece will provide a launch-pad for China’s women's football plan.
"All eyes will be on France 2019 and CFA is hoping to capitalise on the Women's World Cup to attract more attention and promote our game,"he said. Our women's team had been among the top competitors in the Women's World Cup, notably finishing as runners-up at USA 1999. The never-say-die spirit of our women's team has left us with a strong legacy.
"I have high hopes for our team at France 2019. I hope they will continue to showcase what they are capable of, demonstrate the Steel Roses spirit and pull off inspiring displays. It will be a shot in the arm, not only for our game but for the entire society."