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Guangzhou: A joint social responsibility programme between the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and China Football Association (CFA) kicked off with a two-day launch event of football and educational activities on Tuesday and Wednesday in Guangzhou. 

The pilot project for the cooperation is organised with the with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and it will focus on using football as an educational tool and first aid awareness on and off the field.

A total 100 boys and girls, under 14 years of age, and blind football players, took part in the football activities and educational sessions.

They were coached by five former Chinese national team players: Peng Weiguo, Mai Chao, Yang Pengfeng, Zhang Linpeng and Liu Dianzuo.

Chao, Pengfeng, Linpeng and Idanzuo all played also for Guangzhou Evergrande. The players shared their experiences of the importance of discipline in football, as well as concentrating on school alongside football.

Yang Pengfeng said: “This has been an amazing experience for me. The seminar helped me to understand how to improve myself as a grassroots coach. It will help me train better players, with the right behaviour and attitude.

"Today’s experience with the children and the blind football players also has given me an idea how I can motivate the grassroots players to be more appreciative of what they have. We will definitely work closely with Guangzhou FA on social responsibility programmes in the future.”

Li Yimeng, Guangzhou Evergrande President, said: “I am deeply touched with what I saw today on the field. The blind footballers were very impressive, reminding us to appreciate everything we can do, instead of focusing on weaknesses or disabilities.

"Today’s event was a powerful way to show what football social responsibility means. We will definitely do our part as a club, with our players, to educate and create awareness among young people and their parents. I thank the AFC and CFA for bringing this event to Guangzhou, we are very proud to be part of it.”

Speaking at the event, Lin Xiaohua, Member of the CFA Executive Committee, confirmed that the CFA will work on a strategic social responsibility plan for Chinese football, together with the AFC and local football associations, clubs, NGOs and the corporate sector.

Guangzhou FA President Xie Zhiguang and Roger Luo, CFA’s Director of Football for All Department, also thanked the AFC, CFA and Guangzhou Evergrande for initiating the programme in the city.

Gao Fan, China Administrator of Sports for People with Disabilities and Chen Tuxin, Guangdong Federation for People with Disabilities, were also in attendance. 

Frank Ding, IFRC Project Manager, highlighted the unique nature of the regional collaboration between the AFC and the IFRC and added that the cooperation with all project parties will help establish a wider-reaching social responsibility programme in China, using football as a tool for social good.

The launch was combined with a seminar for community football coaches and school teachers at the Guangzhou FA training centre.

The importance of first aid knowledge and training for coaches and teachers was discussed, with the participants taking part in a practical session.

The coaches and teachers discussed how football can be used as an education tool and how they can use football to teach children and young people about health, environment and safety issues, as well as other school subjects.