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China football tour cements new partnership with Beijing Sport University

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UEL men's and women's football teams to take on Chinese opposition in Beijing to mark start of new reciprocal agreement

Thirty-one students from the University of East London (UEL) will depart for China on June 4 for a football tour to mark the start of a new partnership agreement with Beijing Sport University (BSU) – the largest sports specialist university in the world.


The UEL men’s and women’s squads will be based at BSU’s vast, modern campus in the heart of the Chinese capital and will play six matches against three Chinese universities during their eight-day trip.

As part of the tour, UEL football coaches Yassin Abidou and Hannah Burnett-Kirk will lead coaching clinics while Michael Cole, who heads the BSc Sports Therapy course at UEL, will deliver a guest lecture.


The UEL students will also enjoy sightseeing visits in Beijing and beyond. In addition, British Council in China will host an event specially for the delegation to celebrate the UK China cooperation on sports.

The trip marks an important step forward in the relationship between UEL and BSU, which will be cemented by the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions during the tour.


Under the agreement, UEL and BSU will explore ways of establishing student and staff exchanges in the field of sport and related disciplines, working together on joint projects and promoting the development Chinese language and cultural education at UEL.


A key focus of the partnership will be in helping to develop football in China from grassroots to the highest level in line with the Chinese government’s strategy to turn the country into a football superpower.


The UEL men’s team celebrated their seventh successive promotion this year and will start next season in the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Premier Division for the first time in the University’s history.


UEL’s women’s squad also boasts a number of highly talented players, including Millwall Lionesses midfielder Lilli Maple, who has been training with the England Under-20s squad, and Guyana international Otesha Charles, who also plays for Millwall.


The tour will be followed by a reciprocal visit to east London by BSU students and staff towards the end of the year.


The new memorandum of understanding builds on the links that have already been established between UEL and BSU since a UEL delegation travelled to Beijing in 2008 to examine the city’s preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including the role of BSU.


Four years later, UEL played an important part in the London 2012 Games when it hosted Team USA for their pre-Games training camp at its cutting-edge SportsDock complex. The University has also led the way in Olympic-themed research.

As well as their common Olympic and Paralympic interests, UEL and BSU share the same mission to provide a world-class environment elite-level athletes and leading academics in the field of sports science.

With 22,000 students, BSU is the world’s largest sports specialist university, occupying an enormous, high-tech campus that includes 25 gymnasiums and indoor sports halls and 62 outdoor sports fields.

It is the national centre of excellence for numerous Chinese sports – including gymnastics, volleyball and basketball – and in the last four Olympic Games its students and staff have won 30 gold medals, 16 silvers and nine bronzes.

David Cosford, UEL’s Director of Sport, said: “We are delighted to be giving our students such a fantastic opportunity to broaden their horizons and to test their skills against their Chinese counterparts.

“As well as playing football, the students will enjoy sightseeing visits to Beijing landmarks such as the Great Wall and the Bird’s Nest Stadium, so it promises to be a truly memorable experience.

“Our partnership with one of the world’s greatest sports universities is a ringing endorsement of the huge progress UEL has made in recent years in becoming one of the leading universities in the UK for elite sport.”

“The opportunity for student and staff exchanges and the sharing of knowledge and research will bring great benefits to both universities and we’re looking forward to an exciting relationship in the future.”