In the preliminaries of the Qinghai Division of the Chinese Champions League in the new season, a team called Qinghai Oulu International performed exceptionally strong. In terms of lineup, they signed former international Chen Zijie and other professional players. In terms of record, they scored 72 goals in 6 games and easily advanced to the championship match.
What is more interesting is the area where this team is located. After the Football Association issued the admission list, Qinghai, without a professional team, became a "football desert" for the seventh consecutive year. Oulu International has already made up its mind to end this situation. The team is currently training in Chengdu, and it is a high-intensity training session twice a day. Its determination is evident.
During the training interval, Oulu International Club Chairman Li Zhen, team leader Bi Li, deputy general manager and translator Wang Jing, Italian coach Angelo, Chinese coach Li Yong, player representatives Chen Zijie and Tan Lixuan accepted our interviews. After taking over the fire to pass on professional football in Qinghai, are they confident to light up the Dopa base at an altitude of 2,300 meters?
Although the performance on the court is very strong, the club’s early construction process is relatively low-key. Chairman Li Zhen introduced: “As early as the first half of 2019, various matters have been prepared, including with the coaching team and local Communication with the Football Association."
Chen Zijie, who has received a lot of attention from fans, also described his joining experience: "The club got in touch with me at the end of last year. In addition to the club’s long-term strategic plan, I was impressed. More importantly, Zhang Yong and I were in Shaanxi in 2001. When Guoli first became a member of the professional club echelon, his mentors were the current general manager of Oulu International Club Bi Sheng and the team leader Bi Li. "It is this teacher-student relationship that made them determined to choose Oulu International.
After the team was officially formed, the epidemic hit unexpectedly, and the team's original training plan was disrupted. Angelo introduced: "We only started training together at the end of March. Players come from all over the country. There are three generations of old, middle and youth. There are most young people around 25 years old. There is a certain gap between them and experienced professional players. But the old players It can play a very good leading role, and young people are also very hardworking. Everyone can resolutely execute tactics. This is the basis of our success."
As the coach said, the team showed a good state and swept all opponents in the preliminary rounds of the Chinese Championship. However, Li Zhen does not want everyone to pay too much attention to this: "The team's performance is worthy of recognition, but among our opponents, There are predecessors who have a relatively older age in football. These scores really don't explain much. At the same time, we are eager for better results. This year's goal is to reach the second. I hope everyone will focus on the more ambitious goal." In the near future, the team also has plans for a warm-up match with a professional team or its echelon.
From these words, it is not difficult to see the determination of the club's determination. In terms of the most critical operating capital, the two companies under the Xining Construction Group, the investor behind the club, provided Oulu International with a registered capital of up to 80 million yuan. This figure is more than enough for the second team, but in addition to capital, the club There are many challenges to be faced.
Qinghai football actually has a rather glorious history. In the 1980s, the Qinghai team competed in the National League A and broke into the finals of the National Games. However, after professionalization, the development of Qinghai football has slowed down, and Oulu International is the fourth Qinghai team to hit the professional league.
Combined with the current environment, it is inevitable that some people will doubt whether football can open up the market in Qinghai. Is the hat of "soccer desert" really a gap in the development of Qinghai football?
In Angelo's view, the gap in the professional field is conducive to the development of Qinghai football: "From amateur to professional, even with the goal of the Chinese Super League, this provides us with a lot of room for development. And the real so-called "Football desert" does not exist. The development of Qinghai football and even Chinese football has been restricted. The crux of the problem lies in the'lack of professional people to do professional things and a rigorous and orderly system.'"
Li Zhen agreed with this. He has summed up the experience of the previous three failures in the formation of professional teams with the Qinghai Football Association. He believes that the main problem lies in the "disconnected youth training" and "economic constraints". This is also a common problem in Chinese professional football. There is no such thing as a "desert". influences.
"Qinghai football is not a desert" has its own basis. Although the team is currently only appearing in the regional championships, it has already attracted considerable attention from local fans. At the same time, the leaders of Qinghai Provincial Government, Provincial Sports Bureau and Provincial Football Association I also continue to pay attention to the club, the team’s training and games, and they can often be seen on the sidelines.
Chen Zijie, who has experienced the AFC Champions League and the national team, said: "This situation is very surprising. However, there has been no professional team in the local area for a long time. The fans will be relatively unfamiliar with the atmosphere of the top game, and the development may not be too fast in a short time. In five years, I hope that under the leadership of the club, the local football atmosphere will be better."
At present, the club has submitted an application to the Chinese Football Association to host the next stage of the Chinese Championship. If it does, it will definitely stimulate the local football market.
In addition to fan culture, the level of local players is also an important indicator of the "desert fertile soil". Can Qinghai players who do not have a strong presence in Chinese football have more opportunities in the team?
Currently, only two of the team are native Qinghai players. If you want to be truly recognized by Qinghai fans, localization is imperative. For a team from a minority settlement, their choice seems to be broader. .
Many fans believe that a major reason for the poor performance of the national football team is that they did not reuse minority players with excellent physical conditions. At present, the proportion of ethnic minorities in the total population in my country is about 8%. The proportion of national minorities is actually higher than this, but they are basically Hui. Korean and Uyghur nationals have only emerged in recent years, let alone other.
However, it is worth noting that almost none of the ethnic minority players who were kicked out were trained in the youth training in ethnic settlements. They were all taken away by clubs and football associations in other provinces and cities when they were very young.
It is difficult for minority players to get opportunities, which is often interpreted as a typical case in the dark side of Chinese football that "you can't play without money" and that "only those who have a relationship have a chance".
In fact, like the term "soccer desert", this impression is more rigid. If the understanding of the problems of ethnic minority football cannot keep pace with the times, it will be difficult to effectively help its development. The same is true for the entire Chinese football.
As witnesses of Qinghai’s youth training system, assistant coach Li Yong and local player representative Tan Lixuan said: “In fact, the local economic conditions are sufficient for children to learn to play football. But compared to other parts of China, Qinghai players are in the youth training stage. It’s even harder to meet good coaches and the quality of training is worrying."
The overall quality of youth training coaches is not up to standard, which is also one of the common problems of Chinese football. Because of the geographical location and other factors, it is difficult for Qinghai to attract foreign talents. This is why minority players who "go out" can get better development opportunities.
Angelo has been in China for a long time. He has a certain understanding of the concept of ethnic minorities. He believes: "In fact, the views on the physical fitness of ethnic minorities have been exaggerated. After rising to the professional level, the physical fitness of players should There shouldn’t be much difference."
Neither one's own nor external conditions prevail. It can be said that the careers of minority players are not on the same starting line at the beginning.
In this regard, Oulu International is also trying to make changes and fulfill its responsibilities in the youth training industry. Li Zhen said: "The club has established the Qinghai Provincial Football Youth Training Center in cooperation with the Provincial Football Association. This is the first time the Qinghai Provincial Football Training Center has been listed in the history of the province. Not only ethnic minorities, but all local players are the target of vigorous training. "In addition to high-quality training and a rigorous system, the Youth Training Center also provides free board and lodging education, striving to achieve a combination of sports and education.
Although emotionally speaking, all clubs will inevitably hope that there will be more local players in the team; but professional football, after all, requires performance, and whether it can gain a foothold depends on the players' own efforts. At present, there are about 80 U12-U15 echelons cultivated by Oulu International, and nearly half of them are ethnic minorities (including Tibetans, Salars, and Mongolians). The National Games next year is a big test. Ideally, everyone hopes that there will be children selected into the first team within three years.
Two years ago, Song Can, the only Qinghai player who played in the Super League, once lamented that Qinghai football still needs a lot of hard work.
Song Can said at the time that the development of Western football is not easy, and it always takes 12 points of effort to get some results. However, "Having a professional team is very important to the development of football in a region. Maybe Qinghai football can return to the professional stage in the future, but this is not something that can be done by sports departments, business owners, and a generation of footballers alone. It requires everyone’s cooperation. Qinghai football requires not only feelings, but ability and persistence."
Today, the fire of professional football in Qinghai has finally succeeded, and it is the winter of football that disbanded more than ten clubs within a hundred days. It can be said that their efforts have affected not only Qinghai football, but also a bright light for Chinese football in the low tide period. Whether it is based on the love of football or the sense of responsibility to hometown, Chinese football needs to face difficulties. New challenger.