Recent years have seen an explosion in the Chinese football market. Big money transfers, coupled with ambitious plans to become a major player on the international scene, has meant that the world superpower are now taking the beautiful game seriously, and a number of British coaches have made the move to China to unearth the next generation of talent.

Joe Jackson, a BA (Hons) Football Business & Marketing student, recently spent time in Shanghai on a work placement with Chinese Super League champions Shanghai SIPG as an assistant coach with the first team. We caught up with Joe to discuss his time in China and how he sees the game growing there…

How did the job with Shanghai SIPG come about, and what did the role entail?

I knew a coach at Shanghai SIPG and he gave me the rare opportunity to do an internship as an assistant coach for the first team. On a day to day basis, I was there to observe and give feedback on their training sessions, and if any improvements could be made. I was also able to interact with the players and help to keep them focused and motivated throughout the training sessions. As it was the beginning of a new season, trials for the youth team were also happening and my job was to support the coaches and identify the talents that could potentially play in the first team.

Describe a typical day in your role at the club.

I would arrive at the training ground in Century Park at 9.30am to have some breakfast, then I would help the coaches set up the training session for the first team, which began at 10.30am. After the 90-minute session I would have lunch with all the players and coaches, where we discussed the players that performed well and any improvements that could be made to the sessions. In mid-afternoon, the youth players would arrive and we would run them through a quick initiation warm up, then get them straight in to 11-a-side games, as the coaches wanted to maximise the time the players would get to express themselves. The day typically ended around 5pm.

Joe spent time at SIPG as an assistant coach to the first team.

What have you been able to take from the experience into the classroom?

Everything has to be on time and you need to sacrifice everything for the players, as your job is to not only train the players but to be a role model to all the players and staff around the club. This is no different in a classroom environment, where you should be on time for class and hand in assignments on time. Discipline and organisation is equally important in the classroom as well as at a professional football club.

And what were you able to take from the classroom into the workplace?

At UCFB, it is refreshing to build new connections and relationships with people. This is an important skill to have as in the workplace building connections is vital. Learning to properly speak to different people in the correct manner is a skill that I have taken from the classroom into the workplace, and it helped me fit in and interact comfortably with new faces and people at Shanghai SIPG.

Shanghai SIPG are the Chinese Super League champions.

How do you see the game growing over the coming years in China? Can you see it becoming a world leader?

Already in the last five-years football in China has grown exponentially. Players such as Carlos Tevez and Oscar that have played at a high level of football in the English top flight have also played in the Chinese Super League (CSL). Despite the recent transfer regulations for recruiting players in China, the game will still grow hugely in the next 10 to 20 years from the grassroots upwards. With the President of China publicly declaring a personal liking for football, as he believes it’s a strong tool to enhance soft power for China, it will no doubt become one of the sports the country will focus on. Therefore, I see not only the CSL growing, but also the national team will certainly improve over time. The prospect of China hosting a World Cup tournament, following the Olympics in 2008, is a possibility in the next couple of decades… and perhaps even winning it one day!

What are your career aspirations once you have graduated from UCFB?

My career aspirations when I graduate from UCFB are to be at the heart of the development of the game when China hosts the World Cup. I also want to help in bringing the qualities of European football in to China, not to change the Chinese way of doing things but to adapt to it and improve it. With my skill of speaking and writing both Chinese and English it will give me an advantage and with this, I want to build relationships between England and China.