When Tottenham Hotspur players Harry Kane, Jan Vertonghen and Oliver Skipp paid a visit to Shanghai during their preseason club tour, inspiring young footballers at the grassroots level was a key agenda item.
The athletes met with youth players from the Nike School Champions League — a Nike-sponsored, dual-gender tournament — and shared their experiences with the kids. Joining in on the action, the professionals facilitated games and shooting competitions while helping to improve the young players' football techniques.
“We are honored to share this great football experience with these young players," says Kane. "We want them to believe in themselves, follow their passion for football and do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true."
The special engagement with Tottenham underscores Nike's broader commitment to inspiring the youth to take part in the beautiful game in China.
The Nike School Champions League is a partnership with the Shanghai Municipal Education Bureau to create a dual-gender school football tournament. It kicks off in earnest this September, and the event with Tottenham helped to propel the participants into the preseason. Athletes covering U9, U11, U15 and Senior High School age groups make up the various levels of competition, which has a three-year commitment of support.
Nike is building female participation in sports and unlocking barriers to participation through the Boundless Girls program. Co-created with China Youth Development Foundation, the program helps achieve the goal of making sport a daily habit for everyone. Currently 20 schools across Beijing and Shanghai are involved and making changes in their approach to physical activity.
In addition, the Active Schools initiative helps introduce football to children across China. More than 5,000 schools have received teacher training, football-focused curriculum and equipment to get more kids on the pitch.