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Football Dream Moves To Shanghai

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

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Shanghai has become the sixth and final city to host Everton's exciting Football Dream project.

A Blues scouting team including Club legend Graeme Sharp and Asian coaching expert Steve Darby have left Xi'an behind and headed to the bustling Chinese metropolis in search of more top talent.

Sharpy and Steve have also been joined by former Everton Academy manager Ray Hall, who returns to oversee the final leg of the tour after previously helping out in Beijing and Guangzhou.

"I've been pleasantly surprised by the two cities I've visited so far," said Sharp, whose involvement in the project began two weeks ago in Chengdu. "Shanghai, by all accounts, is more westernised, so I'm looking forward to seeing that.

“More importantly, I'm excited to get working with the kids again and seeing if we can unearth a diamond, because that's what this is all about."

Sharpy and Ray Hall cast their eyes over some small-sided games in Shanghai

Having worked so closely with the travelling Academy staff, Sharp has gained a thorough insight into how Everton’s development team approach their acclaimed coaching programmes all across the globe.

And the man who netted 159 goals in 447 games for the Blues has been buoyed by the high-reaching standards he's witnessed.

"I think when you look at some of the things they're doing, all of a sudden you just get handed about 15 Under-7s or something and Robbie [Anderson, Everton's Senior Academy Development Officer] and Steve have been absolutely brilliant with the football coaching," he said. "It's been an eye opener for me, seeing them having to deal with all these kids, organise them, split them into teams and then put on the coaching sessions. And I've been very impressed.

"I wasn't surprised though because our Academy has got a fantastic name and it's just nice to be able to bring it to this side of the world and show the Chinese people how Everton Football Club works.

"Now I'm looking forward to working with Ray and Steve to hopefully find some of the best young players Shanghai has to offer."

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