The Chinese Football Association (CFA), with the support of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), staged the annual CFA Dream China Social Responsibilities Initiatives programme in Changsha and harnessed the ‘power of heroes’ to inspire young players.
The three-day programme was the culmination of a month long event which involved over 5,300 children and provided the opportunity for teams from across the Hunan province, including the remote mountain area of Zhangjiajie, to meet the stars of Chinese football.
For the first time, the Dream China programme used iconic former players such as Ma Mingyu, the captain of China at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan/Korea, who also played in the 1996 and 2000 AFC Asian Cup.
Also joining the event at Changsha’s Yue Liang Dao (Moon Island) were Shao Jiayi, a member of the 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 and 2004 AFC Asian Cup squads, legendary China skipper – and now CFA Vice president – Sun Wen, as well as Liu Cheng, the former China U-20 defender.
The annual event also provides training courses for grassroots football coaches in the country while extending aid towards children and people in need or living with disabilities – in line with the AFC’s Miission and Vision to use football for social development across the Continent through the AFC Dream Asia Foundation.
The Dream Asia Foundation aims at using football for social responsibility projects across Asia, in the key areas of youth, health, education, social inclusion and diversity, and humanitarian aid.
Since its launch in 2017, this foundation has successfully conducted projects in 21 AFC Member Associations – particularly active in countries like Nepal, the Philippines, Malaysia, Jordan, Lebanon, Mongolia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Thailand.