Knappen academy turns three years old – S04 delegation visit

A sustainable and long-term fostering of talent: FC Schalke 04 have been playing a role in Kunshan for three years now. A Royal Blue delegation paid a visit to the province west of Shanghai on Wednesday (4th July).

The timing of the visit was timed to perfection as the two oldest teams – the U13s and U11s – are currently preparing for a big tournament in the province. Marketing director Alexander Jobst, sporting directors Christian Heidel and Axel Schuster, international relations manager Bodo Menze as well as S04 legend Gerald Asamoah went to see the current progress in training and even lead parts of the sessions. Asamoah, who insisted on leading a few drills with the Chinese talents, caused real excitement for the youngsters.

Jobst outlined the background of the project: “Understanding and authenticity are at the forefront of the cooperation. Our project in Kunshan was the entry ticket into the Chinese market for us because we’ve had success in fostering talent here for three years now and it’s been sustainable.”

U11 friendly before first-team clash

The current central theme in training is group tactics, which is being worked on by both age groups and two big highlights are awaiting both teams during the Royal Blue visit to China. Ahead of the Schalke first team match against cooperation partner Hebei China Fortune on Wednesday (11th July), the U11s from Kunshan will play the U11s from Hebei in a friendly fixture. Four groups will take part in an exhibition training session during the half-time break.

The Royal Blues launched the youth academy in China in 2015. After its success, Schalke made an extensive three-year deal with the provincial government of Kunshan. The coaches at the Schalke youth academy have made regular trips to Kunshan ever since then to monitor the training drills while also seeing to the tactical education of the coaches. Trips are also often made in the other direction and a delegation from Kunshan are expected to visit Gelsenkirchen this month.

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