Nantong Zhiyun coach: China does not have a football culture, their tradition is to pay more attention to individual projects

March 17, in an exclusive interview with Portuguese media “zerozero”, Nantong Zhiyun coach Patricia
Ao talked about his knowledge of Chinese football.

——Looking back on the 2022 season

It’s been a very successful season, we have the best defense and one of the best offenses.
When we are promoted to the Chinese Super League, we will provide opportunities for young players to exercise, which is what I have been doing since I came here.
Nantong Zhiyun has the ambition to be promoted to the Chinese Super League, although our budget is lower than other clubs in the same level.
However, we always uphold the humble, hard-working attitude and long-term philosophy.

——What is the goal of Nantong Zhiyun in the new season?

The first is relegation.
We are a team established in 2016 and we have been growing steadily, so we have to stabilize so that we can avoid relegation in the Super League.
Now, we have the potential to get more foreign players on the field, we will have four foreign players this year, plus a substitute – that will be a big help.
In addition, in the transfer market, I have the autonomy to find players who fit the club’s philosophy.
In this sense, we brought in Romario Valde, Lucas Morerato, Bressan and Rubirio Castillo.

——Since 2019, you have been staying in China. What do you think of Chinese football?

Although I already have some coaching experience overseas, China is a different environment.
It was challenging from a cultural standpoint and there was a big language barrier.
Most importantly, the way football is treated here is different from what we are used to in Portugal.
Four years ago, Chinese football was experiencing very high-investment Jinyuan football, but some clubs have now begun to close down.
I’m fine with it, we have a great infrastructure, it’s just a lack of professional services.
For example, in Lisbon we have dozens of clubs, but in my city of Nantong, a city of almost 8 million inhabitants, there are only two clubs.
China competes with the United States in the Olympics and has a tradition of excellence in other sports, especially individual events, but in team events, China has more difficulties.
I understand that as a cultural issue, they are more successful individually than collectively, so the trend now is to make improvements.

——Why are there only two clubs in such a big city?

In the eyes of the Portuguese with a population of 11 million, Nantong is a big city, but in China with a population of more than 1.4 billion, it is just a small city.
I know Chinese people love sports, including football, but they don’t have football culture.
In Portugal we have dozens of century-old clubs and everyone talks about football: the taxi driver, the baker, my grandmother… In other words, anyone likes to talk about football.
There is no such football culture in China, but it has been improving in recent years with the development of the Chinese national team.
The dream of Chinese football returns to the World Cup, let us wait and see what happens next.