Edwin van der Sar believes a shared rich tradition of launching football careers made Everton and Ajax the ideal combination to kick-start China's Football Dream.
Van der Sar was one of three representatives from the Dutch club in Beijing last week to promote the new television show in which talented young Chinese players earned the right to visit either Everton's Finch Farm training ground or the Ajax Academy in Amsterdam.
Now his former club's marketing director, Van der Sar was joined in China's capital city by ex-Ajax teammates Ronald de Boer and Aron Winter, as well as Everton legend Graeme Sharp and Blues International Academy Ambassador Ray Hall."It's a great opportunity for Ajax and Everton to be in this market and have a first-hand look at what the quality is like," Van der Sar, the ex-Fulham and Manchester United stopper, told evertontv.
"It’s been great to see Graeme and Ray. I didn't know Ray before but he's a nice guy and has bags of experience in coaching youth players.
“It's the same for Ajax. Ajax has a famous academy also and we emphasise on bringing young players through.
"Everton are competing with big clubs in England so they need to be inventive. And how can you do that better than by bringing on your own youth players?"
Football Dream was officially launched on Friday with a press conference at Beijing’s General Administration of Sports of China
The project has the support of the Chinese government, one of whose aims is to raise football standards at junior and youth levels, while also bridging the gap between the cultures of Asia and Europe.
Van der Sar insists projects such as Football Dream can help them achieve these goals but understands how the initiative can also be of two-way benefit.
"I think the Premier League has the number one spot out here [in terms of popularity] and rightly so because of the games they can offer with Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, Everton and so on.
"Everton, playing in the Premier League, obviously have a lot of intentions abroad because the Premier League rights are sold to a lot of countries around the world.
"In Holland, it's different. Internationally we still have to grow and hopefully this is one of the things that can make that possible."