Ahead of Wolves’ first ever visit to China next month to compete in the Premier League Asia Trophy, Academy coach James McPike has been helping the development of local talent in the country.
James joined his counterparts from Manchester City, Newcastle United and West Ham United at Jiangsu Suning Academy in Nanjing last week as part of a two-day course, in which they passed on their knowledge to coaches from all 16 Chinese Super League (CSL) clubs.
The coaches also delivered another two-day event, but this time to 30 local PE teachers as they look to help develop football closer to the grass roots.
Wolves’ lead youth development coach, who holds his UEFA A coaching licence and is tasked with deliver the club's philosophy through the training programme and the games Programme at the Academy, offered insight to the Chinese coaches into areas such as curriculum, physical development and training schedules.
“We have had an opportunity to share what we’ve learned through our own experiences,” James said. “This training is challenging them as coaches. It is checking what they're doing, seeing if they can learn anything from us and implement it into their structure and programme to help produce better players.”
Shanghai Shenhua coach Tao Jin was struck from the seminar by the different ways players trained in the Premier League compared with the CSL.
“We train more frequently than Premier League players – up to five times a week – but this isn’t reflected in the quality of players produced,” he said. “It is good to learn more from Premier League coaches and improve the quality of our training, rather than the quantity.”
As well as helping the Chinese coaches, the courses also provided an education to the Premier League coaches, and James believed the training event not only benefited the CSL attendees, but also aided his personal development.
He added: “It’s a fantastic opportunity, not just from a football point of view, but from experiencing a different culture, a different lifestyle and it’s a great privilege.
“It’s an experience to be working with another group of players with different experiences, cultures and habits. It broadens your insight and experience and gives you that opportunity to work with different players and coaches.
“They're doing fantastic work. They're actively trying to upskill coaching through programmes, structure and periodisation. It’s a great start to develop the coaches, not only in Nanjing and Shanghai but in China generally.
“They’re extremely enthusiastic, they want to learn, they’re willing to contribute and they're not afraid to be challenged on what they currently do. But they’re also quite open to seeing what we're doing in England, and in Europe, and they’re quite open to change and taking on board information and new ways of doing things.”
The event is the latest collaboration in a full programme of football development initiatives ahead of the Asia Trophy in July, as part of the Premier League and British Council’s Premier Skills programme, which will also include a youth tournament and referee training.