Sky Bet Championship champions Wolves welcomed players, staff and officials from Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG F.C. this week, when young sides representing both clubs played out a competitive 1-1 result at the West Midland’s side’s famous Molineux home.
SIPG, who finished second in China’s top tier last season, have sent their under-21s to the UK to benefit from elite coaching at St George’s Park National Football Centre and from regular friendlies against UK teams.
Wolves, owned by Chinese investment company Fosun International, extended an invite to the touring team and, with the culmination of their trip near, the young hopefuls stepped out in the largest UK venue to date to take on Wolves’ category one rated Academy’s under-18s.
Ahead of the game, the President of SIPG and other guests were given a tour of Molineux and met with officials from Wolves and Fosun.
Football in China has grown exponentially in recent years, with the country determined to implement grassroots plans to give the sport a sustainable future, centred on infrastructure and youth player development.
Chinese football authorities have been open about their ambitions to progress both domestically and internationally, and Wolves director Sky Sun believes that the progress made at Wolves, and a positive and willing approach to collaboration, can potentially help realise some of those goals.
Sun said: “It is with great pride that we welcomed Shanghai SIPG F.C.to Molineux to take on our Academy, and we hope that all those involved benefitted from the match itself, but also everything else about the day.
“As a club, we obviously already have a strong link to China, but we hope to continue growing our association with Chinese domestic football over the coming years.
“We have learnt a lot during our first two seasons at Wolves, and we are open and willing to use our experiences and resources to help Chinese football continue to progress.
“It is fantastic to see a group of very talented Chinese youngsters get the opportunity to go up against some of the best young sides in England, and I am sure they will learn some very important lessons during the trip, with some going on to have successful careers in China.”