World Youth Cup 2019: Gothia Cup Kicks-Off Qingdao's Journey to Become China's Football City
- Four hundred teams from 40 countries and regions participated in this year's Gothia Cup China. A total of 7,000 athletes divided into 15 classifications will take apart in the tournament which will be played in 42 different venues throughout the week.
First held in 1975, the Gothia Cup was started by the BK Häcken and GAIS football associations, a Swedish football club based in Gothenburg, acquired by BK Häcken since the early '80s. Since then, nearly one million players from 146 countries have participated in the tournament. In 2016 the Gothia Cup established its first sister tournament in China, the Gothia Cup China, a new international football event carrying the same mission: to create a meeting place for the world's youth.
Open and vibrant, Qingdao is a cosmopolitan hub often referred to as "the city of youth football". As part of the initiative to boost citizens 'passion for sport, the municipal government has emphasized the development of football culture. The district of Qingdao taking the lead in igniting football spirt is Changyang, a region which boasts 23 specialist football schools and more than 300 grassroots football teams.
With the number of citizens participating in the sport reaching an unprecedented level, Chengyang district has built 122 standard football fields to drive the growth of the game, with an average of 2.6 per 10,000 people, reaching the level of developed countries such as Germany and Italy. More than 100 fenced and easy-access football fields were also construed for novice players, making sure that every pitch is within 15 minutes reach of residents.
But the Gothia Cup China is much more than just football. Chengyang District is fully committed to building mass sports infrastructure with 58% of residents in the region engaging in the sports activities regularly. The district has reached the goal of the "8-minute fitness circle" where sports venues dotted across the area is reachable for every citizen within a short walking distance.