Youth football in China will get stronger in the future, growing more competitive in the world through its fostering of talented players and sticking to the right policies, several foreign coaches told Xinhua recently during the 11th Luneng Weifang Cup International Youth Football Tournament.
In addition to appreciating the work of Chinese footballing youngsters, they found the training environment, and the training strategies employed, to be quite attractive.
Paulo Noga, head coach of Shandong's Luneng Taishan Football School who assumed office this January, was impressed with young Chinese football players.
"I found a group of players that are of high level of talent," he said.
He has found Chinese youth football to be very promising. "I think the strategy here in China is good. Very soon I think we can have one of the biggest, if not the biggest, competitions in the world here in China," he said.
Lawrie McKinna, CEO of Newcastle Jets -- an Australian football team that also took part in this year's tournament -- says he is amazed by the youth training schools in China.
"When you see a school like here, we don't have this in Australia and many other countries in Europe don't have it. As long as the kids are coached well and they do it for the right reasons, eventually, China will get stronger," he said.
Meanwhile, both coaches agreed that more should be done to bring Chinese youth football to the next level.
Talking about the difference between Chinese footballing youngsters and those in Portugal, Paulo pointed out a distinction between "love" and "craziness."
The Portuguese "all sleep with the ball in the bed," he said. "If they can't play, they cry. They run away from the school to play in the street with their friends."
"The boys that we have here in the academy, they love to play football, but they are not crazy about football," he added, suggesting that Chinese young players should try to find more passion in the sport.
According to Paulo, coaches need to develop better training techniques, and to value the individuality of the players.
It is important to be "well adapted to the reality of the Chinese boys," he said. "We are now copying nothing from outside. We are building a model for Luneng."
Also, coaches need to always keep themselves updated on the latest football knowledge, he said.
Australian coach Lawrie, on the other hand, encouraged all coaches to help their players get involved in real games.
"To me players must play football to get better. If you are not playing under game circumstances, you won't get any better," he warned.
In addition, Chinese football clubs should think twice before signing foreign players with big investments.
"If we spend the money on the players, and the players are really good, and specially they are good models for the young people, for me it's okay. If they are not good models, this is a problem," said Paulo.
According to Lawrie, "we need to get the right overseas players to come and help teach, to teach other players on the team, not just to take the money and not be part of the team."
The Australian coach also recommended that Chinese clubs invite late-developing players, who stand to make leaps and bounds in the future.