Chinese Super League football club plans for training facility to rival world's best
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Chinese Super League football club plans for training facility to rival world's best

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We have set out to create an environment where the footballers love coming to work, to train, to socialise and to enjoy themselves
– Andrew James, Populous principal

The ambitious mission of global sports architects Populous to turbocharge China’s footballing infrastructure has taken another step forward with the announcement of what will be one of the country’s biggest and best training facilities.

Two years of research and planning has gone into the project, which will be located in Gu’an County, Hebei Province and used by Chinese Super League club Hebei China Fortune (CFFC) for its first team, reserves and youth academy.

According to Populous principal Andrew James, the facility has been “benchmarked against the world’s best training centres,” particularly those in Europe, and will include 12 FIFA standard football fields, a training hub, a medical centre, a gym and a hotel and apartments.

“CFFC spent twelve months visiting some 20 football training centres in Europe and provided us with an extensive design brief of their requirements,” he said. “Our task was to assimilate all their technical requirements into a design that was functional, efficient and aesthetically pleasing.

“We have set out to create an environment where the footballers love coming to work, to train, to socialise and to enjoy themselves.”

CFFC chair, Zhao Hongjing, claimed the new facilities will help him establish the club over the next decade and beyond.

“Looking all over the world, whenever there is a powerful football club, there is always a complete set of infrastructure to back it up,” he said. “Both the club and head coach Manuel Pellegrini take the construction of a youth training system very seriously, and we believe that it’s like a football philosophy and strategy, just like that practiced by the youth training echelon of FC Barcelona.”

Construction will begin in early April and be completed by mid-2018.

Populous first dipped their toes into the Chinese sports market 16 years ago to work on the design of the Nanjing Sports Park, which would go on to host the China National Games in 2005 and the IOC Youth Olympic Games in 2014. Since then they have worked in the country designing structures such as Zhuhai’s International Tennis Centre.

Last year they reached a deal with Alisport – the sports arm of Chinese global trade platform Alibaba – to design much of China’s sporting and football infrastructure, which will incude renovating existing facilities and building new ones.

China has been unflinching in making clear its desire to become a world football superpower, with its domestic football teams spending millions on established foreign football stars and President Xi Jinping making the bold statement that he wants the nation to host – and then win – the FIFA World Cup.

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The ambitious mission of global sports architects Populous to turbocharge China’s footballing infrastructure has taken another step forward with the announcement of what will be one of the country’s biggest and best training facilities.
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