BEIJING - China continues to show its determination to develop youth soccer as more financial and public support comes to the aid of the game's future.
The latest initiative has come from the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, which on Monday officially set up the Youth Soccer Development Fund in Beijing and will collect millions of yuan every year to support its Soong Ching Ling Soccer Academies in Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region and Yanbian, Jilin province.
China's soccer chief, Wei Di, has welcomed the financial support and said the Chinese Football Association (CFA) will continue its work to nurture the sport among the younger generation and that youth soccer was the organization's No 1 priority.
"We are establishing a new system for youth development," Wei said.
"Soong Ching Ling Foundation also pays lots of attention to youth education. It's important that our young people will play the sport within an educational environment.
"I hope they will learn how to be a good people and live in harmony through sport. From my point of view, this new fund is not only for soccer's future, but also for the future of how to be a good citizen."
China is currently paying for its lack of grassroots development and lags far behind its neighbors Japan and South Korea.
Wei hopes the new fund will help develop future stars in poverty-stricken areas.
He has reason to be upbeat as the Soong Ching Ling Soccer Academy in Xinjiang, which was established in 2002, has produced a number of promising young Uyghur players over the past few years.
Uyghur's Bali Maimaitiyili and Mirahmetjan Muzepper are currently members of the Chinese Olympic team.
Muzepper became the first Uyghur player to be called up to the senior team after former Chinese head coach Gao Hongbo recruited him for several training sessions in preparation for 2010 East Asian Football Championship.