China betters last Touch World Cup efforts

2 May 2019 @ 14:05 UTC

Wins against Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, and Ireland means China has outperformed their 2015 performance this week.

At the 2015 tournament in Australia, the Chinese scored just two victories. The improving Chinese also gave the highly fancied Welsh team led by Gareth Revell and quicksilver Louis Treays are scare going down by just 11-7. Unfortunately, the Chinese, also lost to great rivals Singapore 6- 3 and by three touchdowns against the highly-fancied Japanese.

Team manager and Secretary of China Touch Association Topy Xu said after his team’s convincing 11-1 win over Ireland that Touch is starting to make inroads in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen.

“Touch is getting up there, and we have ten clubs with Guangzhou the base for the game presently.”

Xu added that being at the World Cup is a significant milestone for Touch in China. “We are applying for the 2021 Youth World Cup. A Youth World Cup would be a great step forward for us.”

The Chinese have arrived in Malaysia with two teams, including the well-drilled Mixed Opens team and an inexperienced Women’s Opens squad. Xu says, “Our Women’s outfit is a new team, while we are hoping for a couple more wins.

“We have trained hard, and many of our players come from South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, which is my university too.”

Xu says that China Touch Association has identified the need to educate school children to grow the game in the world’s biggest sporting market. “We are running training programs for children aged between 4 – 14 years old. They are the future of Touch in China.

“We also have beginners Touch for those interested in the game and are bringing in Australian, and New Zealand coaches to help. This Kiwis support includes Wade Brunson, the coach of the Chinese Mixed team.

“We love watching the Australians play as there are lots and lots to learn from them.”

While China is a relative newcomer to World Cups, some of its players such as April Jiang have already committed long-term to the game. April’s journey with touch started in 2004 in high school, alongside current Chinese teammate Jordan Zhu.

In 2004, Touch was growing slowly in China with most of the game’s traction gained among high school students. A soccer, basketball and track and field athlete, Jiang witnessed Zhu’s enjoyment of Touch and after some years, decided to dive into the game herself.

Away from touch, Jiang is general manager of College Pro, a uniform design company. A passionate Touch coach, the World Cup player trains beginners, promotes the game in local and international schools, conducts team building sessions and sells accessories and souvenirs online to promote the game.

Coaching and promoting Touch within the schools is crucial in attracting the next generation to the game, says Jiang. The Touch veteran is involved with the Australian, and New Zealand coaches who are helping to structure the Chinese teams, and she is adamant her sides use their game plan methods. “No game plan is wrong or right,” she said.

At the World Cup, Jiang has continued to utilise her game-day ritual, which consists of a 3.5-kilometre run and reviewing previous game footage to prepare mentally.

Looking ahead, Jiang predicts that Touch will be an Olympic sport longer-term, participation numbers will double in China, and the women’s game will be a force in south China, as the foundation of school programs develop.

Article by Anthony O'Brien