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What are CSL clubs doing during the new pre-season winter break?

By Nong Ruowen 07 Dec 2017

With the 2016/17 Chinese Super League (CSL) season recently ending on November 4, the winter break has hit the 18 teams, including the two clubs which have been relegated to China League One for next season as well as the two newly promoted sides who will make their debut in the 2017/18 CSL season. Now, these teams have started their preparations for the upcoming journey.  

Winter Training Camps

Just like professional clubs in other leagues, one of the most common activities for  CSL clubs during the winter break is to organize training camps, where new players and perhaps new coaches can acclimatize themselves to the existing players and staff. After welcoming new coaching staff to the club, Shandong Luneng have arrived in Guangzhou to take a two-week training program. Reportedly, the camp will aim at testing and enhancing players’ physical conditions, along with studying tactics and skills training. 

With the Chinese coach Li Xiaopeng becoming the new head coach of Shandong Luneng, the team will be led by a new coaching group consisting of 5 Chinese coaches (1 head coach and 4 assistant coaches) helped by 4 foreign assistant coaches. Additionally two new goalkeeper coaches  and two player conditioning coached have joined the coaching staff at the training camp, along with two foreign assistant coaches. 

Similarly, Shanghai Shenhua have also confirmed their return to Marbella, Spain for its winter training, having trained there in 2016. Preparing for both the AFC Champions League and the CSL next season, the team will kick off their month long training camp  on December 26, 2017, and are expected to return to Shanghai on January 25, 2018. 

Reportedly, Shenhua’s winter training program will be divided into two phases. In the first phase, players will focus on match conditioning training, while the second-phase training will feature friendly warmup matches after which the management and coaching staff will confirm the final 2017/18 squad lineup based on the players performance in those games. 

Player development and fans engagement

Alongside the regular winter training program, some CSL clubs took part in coach education courses offered by the Chinese Football Association (CFA). Earlier this year, the CFA launched a coaching education program, in order to support professional football players to receive their coaching badges after they retire from their professional playing careers. Reportedly, this project will encompass 48 football clubs in the CSL, China League, China Women’s League and the second tier women’s football league. 

During the CSL winter break, the course has landed in Jiangsu Suning and Guangzhou Evergrande, engaging players from both Guangzhou CSL clubs. They will receive training covering training principles, as well as strategies and skills for football games. Trainees will also have the opportunity to practice what they learned in the classroom.

To compliment these courses, Jiangsu Suning also leveraged the winter break to carry out some fans engagement campaigns. In a friendly football match hosted for Suning’s fans, Suning players Wang Song and Ji Xiang were in attendance and took part in a game with their fans. What is extraordinary is that Ji Xiang also participated in a friendly basketball game against Suning fans.  

Facility Updating and Business Development

Updating the facilities in its training center is another priority of Jiangsu Suning during the winter break. Suning’s Xuzhuang Training Center was opened for business in June 2017 but the club is still undertaking further improvements to the center. 

In the new construction plan, the center will be equipped with two more full sized pitches and two more futsal pitches. A new area especially for goalkeeper training is also under construction. Additionally, other facilities for conditioning and rehabilitation training will be seen in the center. Reportedly, all of these projects will be finished by the end of December. 

Beijing Guoan are also undertaking big plans during the winter break by launching their sponsorship plan for the upcoming new season. Under this plan, Guoan has classified its partnerships into three categories: partners, sponsors, and suppliers. 

The team has also released its sponsorship plan for shirt advertising for the new season. Specifically, Guoan will have one major sponsor on the front of the shirt and two patches on the back of the shirt. In addition to this, sleeve sponsorship will also be available in the new season. If any brand want to invite a Guoan player to attend its commercial campaigns, it must pay RMB 1 million every two hours.

Communication with foreign clubs

Having finished fifth in the final rankings of the 2016/17 CSL, Guangzhou R&F travelled to Europe and visited some Bundesliga outfits.

R&F’s tour started in Sinsheim, Germany. The team’s representatives visited 1899 Hoffenheim and held talks with the club on areas including youth training, technology for football training and stadium operations. Alongside this, R&F also had a look at how the broadcasting team works in Hoffenheim’s home stadium. 

Following their trip to the Rhein-Neckar area, R&F arrived in Koln. It was a match day when the group visited the Bundesliga club, which allowed them to witness FC Koln‘s overall match day operations. 

R&F’s overseas communication strategy has also reached the Eredivisie. The Guangzhou-based team signed a partnership agreement with Ajax, announcing the two sides has jointly launched a new youth training project in R&F’s Football School. Reportedly, Ajax’s coaches will come to the school from January 2018. 

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