BOLTON’S WORLD

How the Trot­ters are keen to make their mark around the globe

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By John Lyons

BOLTON WAN­DER­ERS might cur­rently be lan­guish­ing in League One, but they’re keen to be a global force – and they’re al­ready mak­ing in­roads in China!

The Trot­ters have had an In­ter­na­tional Foot­ball Pro­gramme since 2007 and be­lieve it will be even stronger now that they’ve brought their on-site Bolton Whites Ho­tel on board.

It means the Lan­cashire club can bring over groups of young­sters from around the world, pro­vide ac­com­mo­da­tion for them and have an all-in-one foot­ball ex­pe­ri­ence.

And, by go­ing out to pro­vide coach­ing in dif­fer­ent coun­tries, Bolton can make them­selves known over­seas and at­tract vis­i­tors here.

Ex­pe­ri­ence

To get the ball rolling, the Trot­ters put on a coach­ing course in foot­ball hun­gry China, iron­i­cally with two for­mer Pre­ston play­ers at the helm – Paul McKenna and Brian O’Neil.

And McKenna de­scribed the visit to the cities of Wuxi and Xuzhou as as a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence he will never for­get. The duo put on a five­day course to give 24 school­teach­ers ba­sic coach­ing skills.

They also vis­ited a high school, where they worked with some Un­der-18 dis­trict cham­pi­ons, who played a match against a men’s team.

“I man­aged one team and Brian the other,” said McKenna, 38. “The men’s team were far more ad­vanced and it’s not easy to get your point across with the lan­guage bar­rier, so I asked if I could play in the Un­der-18 team!

“I came on in mid­field and told the play­ers what I wanted them to do and gave them a few point­ers. They re­ally en­joyed it.”

The for­mer Not­ting­ham For­est and Hull mid­fielder ad­mit­ted the trip had been a real eye-opener.

“We saw a real piece of China,” he said. “You feel so iso­lated from the West­ern world. We didn’t see any Western­ers in nine days and no-one spoke English – not even in the ho­tel.

“We had three in­ter­preters all the time and they were great. It was good to have Brian with me as well – we go back a long way.”

McKenna, who has just fin­ished his A Li­cence coach­ing course, is look­ing for­ward to adding more air miles in the com­ing months, with trips to Swe­den and Kenya in the pipe­line.

And he be­lieves Bolton have been shrewd in tap­ping into the Chi­nese mar­ket and ex­plor­ing other parts of the world.

“We’ve gone over to China and that’s gen­er­ated in­ter­est from the Chi­nese to come over and stay at the ho­tel,” he said.

“Bolton are get­ting in­quiries all the time and it’s an­other in­come stream for the club.”

The In­ter­na­tional Foot­ball Pro­gramme has al­ready wel­comed stu­dents, teams and coaches from Kenya, Amer­ica, Canada, South Korea and Colom­bia in the last few months.

Bolton man­ager Phil Parkin­son said: “Most of the young­sters have never been to a pro­fes­sional game be­fore, but be­ing on site at the ho­tel means that, if a game is played here, they can also watch it.

“Just walk­ing into the ho­tel and see­ing young­sters sat there wear­ing a Bolton kit and eat­ing break­fast with some of the club’s play­ers is a great sight. They re­ally en­joy be­ing around a pro­fes­sional set-up.”

CHINA DUO: Paul McKenna, right, and Brian O’Neil flew the flag for Bolton

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