What do Dongguan and football legend Michael Owen have in common? SoccerWorld; a brand that sets up football centers in countries all over the world like Germany and Spain.
Owen became the brand’s official ambassador after his retirement last year and he has already helped set up football centers in cities all over China. This January SoccerWorld opened their first football center in Dongguan.
Located behind Dongguan Sports Center, the football center has five, five-a-side pitches and three seven-a-side pitches that boast the same type of artificial surfaces used by FC Barcelona and Manchester United.
To celebrate their opening, SoccerWorld held a five-a-side competition on Saturday February 22nd. Sixteen of the best teams in the city competed against each other. They also held competitions for children in the Under 8 and Under 10 categories, which ran alongside the adult competition. As well as football there was also an inflatable obstacle course for the children and a prize raffle draw.
A number of spectators came down to watch and many companies chose to advertise. The organizers plan to hold more five-a-side competitions as well as organizing a seven-a-side league.
Organizing competitions has been a problem for those who play football in Dongguan, especially for foreigners. In the past year there have been signs that this is changing, especially with the opening of SoccerWorld, who are more accommodating to foreigners, a demographic that is fond of the sport.
While there may be more pitches in Dongguan than some may realize, the facilities are not what many are used to. The facilities at SoccerWorld, however, are of a standard that has not been seen before in Dongguan.
They have a sports café where players and spectators can enjoy a drink and watch football on the television. For those who forget to bring a football or need a new kit they can purchase them directly from the merchandise stall. They have locker rooms and showers so that players can change before and after games. They even have Western style toilets as opposed to the holes in the ground found in sheds at some of the other pitches.
SoccerWorld may have the newest and most impressive pitches in Dongguan, but there are many other places you can play football. Dongcheng Sports Park, on Guancheng Road, has 8-a-side pitches and Champion Soccer School, in Yinling Street, has indoor 5-a-side pitches.