CTFA secretary-general Wang Sheau-shiun (王筱薰) has admirable goals: “Our first goal is for the Taiwan national junior squad to make it to the finals of the under-17 FIFA World Cup in 2019. The other goal is for Taiwan to produce 10 top-level international players in the next 10 years.”
However, to have even a remote opportunity of success, the government needs to invest in facilities and players at the grassroots level (10-12 years old) right now. Ten to 15 years ago South Korea was behind Taiwan in almost every way. Now South Korea’s economy (cars, electronics, brands), culture (Taiwanese love watching their soaps) and sports (many South Koreans playing in Europe’s top professional leagues) have surpassed Taiwan.
Finally, the development of grassroots sports needs the support of local corporations and media. Volkswagen and Yamaha sponsor soccer tournaments in Taiwan and have done so for a few years now. TV coverage of these events from ELTA shows how the beautiful game is gaining popularity. For a third year Allianz is sponsoring two 14-16 year olds to train for a week in Germany, through the “Football for Life” program.
What about top Taiwanese companies? If Taiwan is serious about having its own professional soccer league and developing world class players, then Taiwanese companies need to get involved. Acer, Asustek, HTC Corp, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, Hon Hai Precision and others should be encouraged to participate and sponsor infrastructure, leagues, teams and academies in Taiwan’s three major metropolitan areas.