Legendary Brazilian soccer player Ronaldo is set to open 30 football schools in China, the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year announced on Tuesday, in his aim to help Chinese youngsters excel in the sport.
The said schools will be mainly located in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, according to a report by Xinhua news.
The former Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Inter Milan striker is expected to grace the opening of the first school in the Chinese capital in November.
He hopes his passing on his knowledge of the sport will help lift China’s level in the international soccer stage.
This comes at the heels of Chinese President Xi Jinping, a self-confessed football fan who is pushing for China to host the World Cup finals in the future, aims to resurrect the image of the sport in the mainland after years of corruption issues in the past.
It resulted in revamping the Chinese Super League followed by a boom in investment from local businessmen and several Brazilian greats like Robinho and Diego Tardelli, signing with top tier teams.
The 39-year-old Ronaldo, who bagged two World Cup titles with Brazil, said the speed of development and Xi’s ambitions have been key factors to his decision to make his presence felt in the country.
“Besides business factor, the major reason for me to open soccer school in China is because there are lots of soccer fans and players in the country, and Chinese government and civil organization also focus on soccer development. I hope my method of soccer training could help develop Chinese soccer,” said Ronaldo in an interview with Xinhua.
“I think Chinese soccer has the mass base and determination, but it may still lack the proper concept and training method,” he added.
One of the Chinese government’s ambitious goals is to bring both the men’s and women’s national squads to the highest level of the sport.
The Chinese women were knocked out in the quarterfinal round of the World Cup earlier this year, while the men’s national squad has only reached the finals once in 2002.
More popularly known as “The Phenomenon,” Ronaldo is tagged as one of the all-time greatest soccer players in the world. He is one of only four players to have been bestowed the FIFA World Player of the Year at least three times, joining the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo. He was also awarded the Ballon d’Or twice – 1997 and 2002.