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National youth football event to kick off in Zhangjiagang

The 20th Beibei Cup Youth Football Competition holds a press conference in Beijing on July 12 to announce its launch in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province from July 24 to 30. [Photo by Jin Liang/Xinhua]

A press conference promoting the 20th Beibei Cup, one of China's largest and most prestigious youth football competitions, got underway in Beijing on July 12.

The competition seeks to boost the country's grassroots football and is a joint effort of China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, China Football Association, and Zhangjiagang municipal government. The competition will see 32 teams and more than 600 players fight for the trophy in Zhangjiagang from July 24 to 30.

Tang Jiuhong, a top official from the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, remains delighted with the health and development of the competition in recent years.

"This is far more than a sporting event. The collectiveness, levels of cooperation, and spirit that exists at the competition continues to inspire generations of people," said Tang.

The competition's slogan "Beibei Cup today, the World Cup tomorrow" is indicative of the event's ambition and is a phrase often repeated by the youngsters taking part. What's more, the Beibei Cup has long stood as an example of footballing excellence with former national team players Yang Chen and Zhao Junzhe first glimpsed at the July event. The two are now proud ambassadors of Beibei Cup.

"It is comforting to see football gaining more and more popularity among young people [in China]," Yang said.

The event's promotional ambassadors Yang Chen (L) and Zhao Junzhe (R), former Chinese national players gift shirts and a football to junior players. [Photo by Jin Liang/Xinhua]

In addition, the local authorities are fully behind the development of the competition with Bian Dongfang, deputy mayor of Zhangjiagang, stating his wishes for the continued development of the event.

"As the birthplace of the Beibei Cup, Zhangjiagang enjoys a special connection with the event. It is not only a marker of the city's sports industry, but also a reflection of China's ever-increasing focus on football reform," Bian said.

Initiated in the Fenghuang town of Zhangjiagang in 1983, the Beibei Cup is China's most renowned football event targeting teenagers aged of 12 and under. The annual event was carried out consecutively until 2001 before being relaunched in 2016.

Participants attending the press conference of the 20th Beibei Cup Youth Football Competition pose for a group photo. [Photo by Jin Liang/Xinhua]