After participating in tryouts in Taipei last weekend, six young soccer players were selected from almost 100 participants to represent Taiwan in the Asia round of the Allianz Junior Football Camp in Phuket, Thailand, next month.
The players that will represent the nation in the event’s 14-to-16 age group were announced on Monday. Of the six, five are male and the sole female representative is Chen Chia-ling (陳家玲), who is a member of the women’s under-16 national soccer team.
Chen and her teammates will train, attend seminars and play games against participants from several Asian nations, including China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka. The event will be held from June 28 through June 30.
Two finalists will be selected from each country to attend the global round of the soccer camp in Germany, where they will meet and train with the stars of newly crowned UEFA Champions League title holders Bayern Munich.
The tryouts were held at the soccer fields under the Taipei City Bailing Bridge on Saturday morning. Participants were put through their paces by Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA) coaches officials and coaches, and Allianz Taiwan representatives.
“We divided the kids into teams to play against each other. Six soccer coaches observed the games and judged the players on a number of criteria, including passing, running, ball control, dribbling, team work and sportsmanship,” said Chung Chien-wu (鐘劍武), a CTFA junior coach who was one of the judges at the tryouts.
“There were two stages in the selection process: In the preliminary round, 20 players were short-listed. These players then had to compete in a second game, where we judged them closely to select the final six representatives for Taiwan,” Chung told the Taipei Times.
In between games, the players were also tested on their English-language skills. They had to introduce themselves in English and were subjected to a question-and-answer session by Allianz officials. The language proficiency test accounted for 30 percent of candidates’ score.
“The program provides good incentive for young Taiwanese soccer players. Two of them will get to go to Munich in Germany and train with other young players from all over the world,” Chung said. “This is an opportunity to provide good exposure to our top-level players, because they lack international experience.”
Despite the fun atmostphere on the pitch during the tryouts, there was, of course, a lot of disappointment as well among the candidates who did not make the cut.
“I had high hopes of being one of the six chosen to go to Thailand, but things did not turn out well for me,” a young boy surnamed Liu (劉) said. “I did not get many chances to show what I can do because the others did not pass to me.”
“Of course I am disappointed, but I appreciate the opportunity and since I’m 15, I can still try again next year,” Liu said.
The program is a collaboration between the CTFA and Allianz Taiwan, a German insurance and financial services company. Taiwan was last year added to the list of countries that collaborate with the firm’s program.
In 2011, 52 teenagers from 16 countries went to Germany under the program and 63 teenagers from 21 countries participated last year.
One of the highlights of the program last year was that the young players got to meet Bayern Munich stars such as captain Philipp Lahm, as well as Germany internationals Sebastian Schweinsteiger and Manuel Neuer.