Retired Brazilian football star Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima has teamed up with famous educator Carlos Wizard Martins, also from Brazil, to open 30 soccer schools in China.
Announcing their plans during a ceremony in Campinas, Brazil, on Tuesday, Ronaldo and Martins said they plan to open the first batch of three schools in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, Ming Pao Daily reported on Wednesday.
Ronaldo considers China as their most important market, although the duo have already set up shop in the United States and Brazil, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The pair plan to launch 100 soccer training schools globally over the next five years.
Their objective is to recruit students aged between four and 18 and nurture “discipline, innovation, quick decision-making, persistence, focus, stamina and strategy” among them.
Thrice crowned FIFA World Player of the Year and winner of two Ballon d’Or awards, Ronaldo is considered one the most successful players in the 1990s. He has won the FIFA World Cup twice and a first runner-up with Brazil.
Martins first started as an English teacher in Brazil and became a billionaire by spinning his humble business into a national franchise of 2,600 schools. He made it into the Forbes list in 2014.
Ronaldo was quoted as saying that he has full confidence in the future of football in China, as the country boasts a large fan base as well as athletes who love the game.
Ronaldo is hoping that he could bring to China the right concepts and effective teaching methods for the sport.
Four years ago, President Xi Jinping said he hoped China could one day not only host the World Cup tournament but also emerge as winner.
Xi has placed a big emphasis on football development, with the State Council having rolled out a reform proposal for the sports in March, calling for the setting up of 20,000 football training schools in five years’ time.
Martins was quoted as saying that their new plans could help China clinch their first-ever World Cup in eight to 12 years’ time. China currently ranks 84th on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
Ronaldo and Martins will make an appearance in Beijing on Nov. 15 to unveil their first soccer school.
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