Tong Zhou set to lead U-13 tour to China

Words: ACFC Media

Monday 1 July 2024

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - When Tong Zhou arrived in New Zealand, he aimed to create an academy fostering stronger China-New Zealand cultural and football relations.

Now the 34-year-old is about to realise his dream when he leads a combined U-13 team on a tour of his homeland from 5-13 July 2024.

Zhou, who is a community coach at Auckland City FC, has worked hard to set up the tour using his reputation in China as a former professional player to help open doors, and in the future, possibly ongoing football and cultural exchanges.

Hailing from Zibo in China, Zhou enjoyed a long professional career with clubs such as Dalian Aerbin, Tianjin Teda, Wuhan Zall and latterly Tianjin Jinmen Tiger.

"I am excited for the tour with our objective to develop football skills of the players and create a pathway for New Zealand youth and children to aspire to.

"Exploration of these possibilities in China also gives the club new brand horizons and perspectives to consider and builds off our meetings with Tianjin FA earlier this year," Zhou said.

The tour takes in a professional game on 6 July 2024 when Tianjin Jinmen Tiger host Changchun Yatai in a Chinese Super League clash with some of the U-13 players lined up to be ball kids on the night.

"This is a very exciting opportunity for our children and youth to experience something very, very new, in a different country and I am excited to see them grow and learn," Zhou added.

After five days of training in Tianjin, the tour party heads to Beijing for a tour of The Great Wall, before heading to Shanghai and a return to Auckland on 13 July 2024.

Also attending the tour will be a group of parents along with club members from the local Auckland Chinese community.

Auckland City FC general manager, Gordon Watson, will also attend.

"This is an amazing opportunity for everyone involved and we cannot be more thankful of Tong Zhou's commitment, hard work and passion for this tour. It is very rare for young people to get such a wonderful chance to experience a different culture and I'm sure it will create a memory to cherish.

"He, along with his team of supporters here in Auckland, have worked tirelessly to make this happen and having attended one training session I know the players and their parents are also very excited.

"It is important to acknowledge the contribution of Tianjin Jinmen Tiger FC, Beijing Guoan FC, the Dajili Group Ltd, and Ikicer Ltd, for their support, vision, wisdom and belief in our club to get this tour organised.

"I also want to mention the hard work of Top International Ltd and Tong Sports for their facilitation of this event - it is very special," he said.

The tour commences on Friday 5 July and concludes on Saturday 13 July 2024.


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