FC Barcelona, Mission Hills Group to partner China’s Hainan

Haikou (China), Feb 24 (IANS) Futball Club Barcelona (FCB) and Mission Hills Group announced a landmark collaboration on Friday to make Hainan province a hub of football for China and the wider region.

The two giants will jointly open a major football academy in Haikou, the island’s provincial capital city, in the coming months. At the same time, the interactive FC Barcelona experience area will commence operation on Friday in preparation for its opening in 2017, reports Xinhua news agency.

“FC Barcelona is delighted to be able to support the growth of the beautiful game in China and help you reach your goal of making this a great footballing nation,” said Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

“Opening our first 100 percent FCB-managed football school here in China is a huge commitment. It demonstrates our confidence in our partner Mission Hills and in the future of Hainan, as well as our optimism about the footballing talent we expect to find here,” he added.

Ken Chu, Chairman and CEO of Mission Hills Group, noted that the group has been paying more attention to football in China.

“Since 1992 Mission Hills has been helping to popularize sport and leisure in China – including our flagship sports golf and tennis — and now we are devoting our efforts to football as well,” he said.

In recognition of its size and importance, the academy in Haikou, known as FCBEscola, will be the first overseas FCB football academy directly managed by FCB.

The FCBEscola in Haikou will be staffed by Barcelona coaches and will follow the same training methods used by the the Catalan club’s youth teams. It will have seven football pitches and will eventually be able to enroll 1,000 boys and girls aged between six and 18 years. The school will open its doors to its first students this summer, with its first full season training beginning in September.

FCB Club Ambassador Ronaldinho, who is in Haikou to support the opening of the new FCB facilities, says he hopes the school can also help its pupils in terms of sportsmanship and personal growth.