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“Teaching kids tips — how to shoot, how to dribble — to be honest, that is my favorite part of the game,” says #cristianoronaldo onstage at Beijing’s Guomo #nike store, where minutes later he was joined by the Brilliant 7, the MVP’s of the local #nike League.
That passion was evident the previous night, July 23, when the four-time Ballon D’or winner guided young players through a series of passing and shooting drills. The evening was part of the #nike League finals, the culmination of a season’s play between 216 teams across elementary, junior and senior high school levels. The evening ended with the superstar handing out trophies to the victors in front of the 6,000 fans who came to watch the fun — not bad for a program that only launched in the second weekend of April.
Teaching kids tips — how to shoot, how to dribble — to be honest, that is my favorite part of the game.- Cristiano Ronaldo
The #nike League was founded to increase participation in youth football across #beijing, and is a response to a China-wide desire to increase opportunity for youth in #sport. The teams, each formed by a respective school football committee, represent all 16 districts of the city and accounts for nearly 3,000 players. Players from #beijing Guoan of the Chinese Super League (CSL) lend support in training, while scouts from the league often attend matches. The program welcomes players of all ages and skills, and its fluidity gives chance for growth both in individual technique and within the national ranks of Chinese football — two members of the league are currently enrolled in the Chinese Football Associations U14 national rep system.
“Here you can feel the real fans. I appreciate the love the fans give to me and it gives me motivation to work hard for the future and to maintain my level,” Ronaldo said during his address to players and fans. “To be here, to be an example to young players means a lot." It’s a testament not just to his support and passion for grassroots football, but of the strength of support during the player’s tour of China.
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