Scottish Football Coach Realizes His Dream in Chengdu

Authors: Go Chengdu


Andy McAuley, from Scotland and now a long-term resident in Chengdu, makes football a prospering business in his "second hometown".
"I've been in Chengdu for eight years and I have seen more and more foreigners coming to Chengdu these years...and this makes it easier for me to organize football matches," said Andy McAuley, from Scotland and now a long-term resident in Chengdu, "And one day I talked to my partners 'well, we can make football a business in the city', and then my football career started in Chengdu."
Andy is a holder of five certificates for coaching issued by the Scottish Football Association and, like most Scots, he is a die-hard fan of the football sport.
From Shamrock to ADI Sports
Chengdu had its first encounter with the sport of modern football some 110 years ago, when an English missionary, R. J. Davidson, introduced football to some colleges in the city. The sport reached its prime time in the 1990s as Sichuan Quanxing Football Club, a local football team, rose to fame in China's top football league and collegiate football matches in Chengdu had thousands of participants, including overseas students from local universities and colleges. The first football club composed exclusively of international students in Chengdu, called Shamrock Wanderers, was set up in 2002, the year when China's National Football Team made a historic advance with the qualification into the World Cup finals.
Andy came to Chengdu in 2007 to learn the Chinese language at a university, but he soon made his fame in the circle of expatriate football players in the city. "I spent much of my spare time on the playground, as a member of Shamrock Wanderers, and at Shamrock Bar & Restaurant, where we watched football matches on TV and talked about the events and football stars," Andy recalled, "Our team was so famous in the city that gradually some native football fans wished to join in. And it has become more culturally diversified."
In 2011, Andy set up ADI Sports company in Chengdu in partnership with David Nicholson, also from Scotland, and Iker Vergel, a professional footballer who served for more than four years in Real Zaragoza, a team of top football league in Spain.
One of the projects of the company is Chengdu International Football Academy (CDIFA), which provides professional training courses for local young football talents. On weekends, over a hundred kids of the age from 6 to 14, expatiates and native alike, come to Chengdu Soccer Park in the south of the city to receive training.
"We pay more attention to promote the love of football among the kids, and many of them show great talent in the sport," said Iker, "I'm sure some of them will be good players in the future, and what we are doing now is to give them a leg up to be successful in professional career." He explained that the academy plans to select some of the young talents and send them abroad to receive more advanced training courses.
Football is an International Language
Chengdu International Football Academy has introduced to Chengdu a set of modern football training sessions for the youth, which are needed and welcome by local trainees.
"We place great emphasis on developing interest in the sport and giving full play of the talent of individuals, just as it is required in modern youth training systems, either in Britain or Spain," said Andy.
He explained that interest in a sport at the early age will influence the whole life. "My father was a football coach and he enjoyed his job, even he didn't make much money from it," Andy recalled, "His love to football has exerted great influence on me, and since childhood I have been a football fan and an ardent support of football teams of my hometown, back in Glasgow. In Chengdu, you can see many kids come to the playground to watch their dads playing football. There the love of the sport starts."
In Andy's opinion, the most important thing is to help young kids come to find fun in playing football and they must have enough time to do so, "Football must be a kind of relaxed life, at least for young people."
"Football is an international language," he said, "For some foreigners in Chengdu, it's their first time to the city, even to China, and the love and involvement in football help them to adapt to and enjoy life in Chengdu."

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