By Sportswriter Spencer Musick
BEIJING, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Viva China's Li Ning Sports Park played host to a launching ceremony here on Tuesday for the Feyenoord Viva Football Academy, a new joint project between Viva China and Dutch Eredivisie champions Feyenoord.
The newly-established Feyenoord Viva Football Academy will roll out training centers across China that will foster youth talent, train coaches and provide a boost to local footballing infrastructure.
The agreement also aims to complement the development of Li Ning Sports Parks across China, which will play host to a variety of related community projects.
Present at the ceremony were Li Ning, chief executive officer and chairman of Viva China, and Mark Koevermans, chief commercial officer of Feyenoord.
The two sides stressed their commitment to developing a nationwide youth training program, along with speeding up the development of the domestic football industry in China.
Li hailed the newly-inked agreement and noted its unique function as a component of China's overall football strategy.
"The Chinese government has been providing the utmost assistance in the promotion of football across the country," he said.
"Benefiting from favorable national policies that help promote youth football training, our Group, together with Feyenoord... will offer world-class and highly-regarded training programs to people from all walks of life," Li added.
Li also explained that the agreement is part of a larger effort on the part of his company to expand the scope of its sports businesses.
"This is an important step for our Group to explore diversified development of sports-related businesses, and is expected to enrich our sports resources in the field of football," Li continued.
For his part, Koevermans said that the deal is a reflection of Feyenoord's goal to promote football culture around the world.
"We are very excited to be a part of this ambitious new project, and we are committed to doing our part to spur the development of football across China," he said in his remarks at the ceremony.
He also went on to explain that the agreement is a reflection of Feyenoord's commitment to bringing the sport to more and more people around the world.
"Feyenoord's goal has always been to promote football culture around the world. Through our systematic and award-winning youth program, and a team of professional and experienced coaches, we look forward to nurturing local football talents and promoting football in China," he said.
Koevermans also stressed that Feyenoord's approach is to push young players to take their talents to the pitch, and said that this would be the underpinning of his team's efforts in China.
"Our tradition is that at least 50 percent of our academy must play in the first team. Football in China is growing year by year, and we think that [with this approach] we can make a good contribtuion to the development of football in the county," he said.
Koevermans also pointed to a bright future ahead for football in China.
"The future of Chinese football is very bright. The government is behind it. Also, the world is getting smaller every day. [New technology] will allow youth in China to view European football games. This will allow interest in the sport here to keep growing, and we in Holland are very positive in our outlook about the future for Chinese football," Koevermans concluded.
Founded in 1908, Feyenoord has 15 Dutch Eredivisie titles to its name, and was the first Dutch team to take home the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1970.