Bamboo Goalposts by Rowan Simons

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I read this one a couples of years ago, and although it is a pretty lengthy read at 400 pages, it was well worth the effort. The book is written by Rowan Simons, who has lived in China for over 20 years, and has indulged his passion for football, from setting up lunch-time 5 a side games with work colleagues through to setting up his own football club.

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Simons is blocked at every turn by the state, (Chinese authorities are still suspicious of large crowds organised by an Englishman), apathy (there is no culture of organised sport among many sections of the population and it is not encouraged by the government) and a lack of facilities (there is intense competition for available land, and to get permission to use land for recreational purposes can prove difficult).

Football in China has come a long way since this book was written, but through Simons writing, you can understand the trials and tribulations that thousands of people have gone through to get to this point. With many premier league sides now touring Asia, and satellite television now making European football more accessible, the game is sure to grow. The Chinese super league is also gaining in popularity, with huge money swashing about the league and average attendances around the 19,000 mark.

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