For Fun and Friendship: Foreign Amateur Footballers’ Happy Life in Chengdu

Authors: Go Chengdu


On the pitch, players were in a fierce competition; off the pitch, spectators from different countries greeted each other like old friends and cheered loudly for the footballers...
Starting this March, on every Saturday afternoon, a special football match was always held on Sichuan University's Huaxi campus. Most of the players are foreigners from the UK, France, Germany, Spain and the US, etc. They come together for only one purpose - enjoying the fun of playing football, meeting new people and building friendship. This is why the competitive football event organized by the Chengdu International Football League (CIFL) has attracted so many foreigners in Chengdu and it has been held for four straight years.

10 Teams with More Than 250 Players
The Chengdu International Football League is the one and only football platform for foreigners in Chengdu. Having 10 teams with over 250 footballers from over 40 countries throughout the world, since 2011 the CIFL has been hosting regular competitive football matches on Sichuan University’s Huaxi Campus on every Saturday. Among the 10 teams, except one with players from China, all members are football lovers from consulates/consulates-general in Chengdu, foreign chambers of commerce, universities, and multinationals including Chevron, BP and Shell.

Andy McAuley, Founder of CIFL, a Foreign Son-in-Law in Chengdu
Andy, the founder of the CIFL, holds 5 different coaching qualifications awarded by the Scottish Football Association (SFA). Married a Chengdu lady, Andy has been a father of a 5-month boy.
He said that he aims to offer foreign and local football enthusiasts a place to play football and have fun. This is why he founded the League.
The origin of the League dates back to early 2000. At that time, the Shamrock Bar located in South Renmin Road was a place where lots of foreign football fans liked to get together, and they had already founded a football team made up of foreigners, which was named after the bar. In 2007, Andy came to the city and joined the team soon. "When I just came here, there was only one foreigners’ football team in Chengdu. Gradually, the team had more and more members, from 20, 30 to 40 and more... It's too many people for a team, so we divided it into two, three and more. We would like to participate in some games, but at that time there were hardly football matches to take part in. So in 2011 I decided to set up a league with my friends. And how time flies, it has been four years since the establishment of the CIFL."

In the four years, the matches at weekend are like a party for Andy and his partner David Nicholson (from the UK and currently chairman of CIFL). The League, he said, is actually a very good platform for foreign football fans. "Some of them maybe just came to the strange city, some others maybe have studied, worked and lived here for some time. I want to create an opportunity for them to come together to enjoy the pleasure of playing football."

“It's Easy to Find Teammates Here”
"We have made a lot of friends from different countries in Chengdu because of football. It's really easy to find teammates here," said David, who is from Scotland and has lived in Chengdu for 5 years. "The style of life here is laid-back and makes people feel comfortable. People here have plenty of time to do what they are interested in at weekend, that's great. Playing a game every weekend let us feel so good."
When asked what is the advantage of playing football in Chengdu, Andy quipped that the weather here is good, not like that in the UK with so much rain and snow. In the city sometimes it rains at night, and is sunny next day. We can play football almost every day. If there were more true grass pitches that would be so good! "

Foster Children's Interest in Football
In just four years, Andy (right) and two of his partners David (left) and Iker Vergel (middle, an ex-professional footballer residing in Chengdu. He once played football for the Spanish Real Zaragoza), using their own resources and network, established the ADISports sports management company. Over the past few years the company has been expanded and they have founded successively the Chengdu International Football Club (CDIFC), the Sunbirds International Ladies Football Team, the Chengdu Corporate Football League (CCFL) and the newly opened Chengdu International Football Academy (CDIFA).
The CDIFA runs a unique football coaching program that offers children with abilities the opportunity to get active, learn new football skills and enjoy the beautiful game. Football has become a common language for foreign and local children at the age of 4 to 16. "We not only let the children learn new skills, but also develop their interest in football and enjoy the sport." Andy and his colleagues think that they can pass their passion to both the Chinese and foreign young football fans. To provide a platform for children to learn football is a happy thing.

You can get more information about the CDIFA by visiting website
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