Amsterdam football club Ajax and England’s Everton have joined forces in a television talent show contest to find the best junior player in China.
The ‘Football Dream’ show will be broadcast on different Chinese stations and 60 players aged 14 to 17 will be selected for the final, RTL news said. The winner will get a place in either the Ajax or Everton youth academy.
‘This format fits perfectly with Ajax’ core activities,’ said former international Edwin van der Sar, who is now the club’s marketing chief.
Ajax press spokesman Miel Brinkhuis told reporters the Chinese government had approached Ajax and Everton about the talent hunt. ‘China wants to use this initiative to improve its youth football standards,’ he is quoted as saying by RTL news.
The show will be produced by events organiser Global Media Productions.
A report by the Swiss-based International Centre for Sports Studies in March said Ajax has the most prolific youth academy in Europe for producing young talent.
The institute looked at Europe’s most competitive 31 leagues last year and found 69 players who had been trained in the Ajax youth academy. Success stories include Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg SV), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray) and Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma).
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