Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Part Owner Ronaldo to Embark on Preseason Tour in China
NASL – Club will host tryout, play friendlies during 14-day trip
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Feb. 4, 2016) – The Fort Lauderdale Strikers will be the first North American Soccer League (NASL) team to visit China in nearly four decades as the club today announced a preseason tour of the Asian country. The Strikers will embark on the trip on Sunday, February 28, and will stay in China for a 14-day period until Saturday, March 12. Part owner Ronaldo will be with the club in China.
“The Strikers are a global brand and our upcoming trip to China highlights the lofty ambitions of the club,” said Strikers Managing Director Luis Cuccatti. “We believe in growing our brand and exposing our players and fans to the best soccer has to offer.”
Four cities will host the Strikers during their time in China, with dates of friendly matches against opponents to be released at a later time.
“The Strikers, like many other NASL clubs, are continuing the league’s great tradition of embracing the global game of soccer,” said NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson. “Professional soccer is exploding in China, with recent transfer numbers growing exponentially year after year. Having the Strikers and the R9 Academy linked to such a huge movement will benefit everyone involved, and we’re very proud of their efforts and wish them a lot of success.”
While in China, the Strikers and R9 Academy will team up to host a tryout for talented Chinese players. Strikers Head Coach and General Manager Caio Zanardi will be present. At its conclusion, one tryout participant will be selected to earn a contract with the Strikers.
“Ronaldo and the Strikers see immense, untapped potential in China,” added Cuccatti. “The sport has grown exponentially in the country and our goal with the tryout is to provide Chinese players an opportunity to join the Strikers. There is talent in China and we fully expect to sign a high-quality player from the competition.”
In December, Ronaldo personally selected the winner of O Fenômeno Dos Campinhos, a similar tryout in Brazil. Amateur player Rafael Roque was named winner of the competition, earning a six-month contract with the Strikers. He will link up with the Strikers next week as the club resumes preseason training.
The trip is made possible through the Strikers partnership with R9 Academy. Last November, Ronaldo announced his intention to open 30 academies in China.
The hashtag #StrikersInChina will be utilized by the club across social media platforms.
The announcement of the tour comes on the heels of the Strikers’ participation in four international matches. To kick off the 2016 preseason, the Strikers faced FC Schalke 04, Independiente Santa Fe, Corinthians, and FC Shakhtar Donetsk in January. The first two matches were part of the Florida Cup, where the Strikers competed as the only U.S.-based team in the tournament featuring first-division opponents from Brazil, Colombia, Germany, and Ukraine.
Last summer, the Strikers traveled to Brazil for a friendly match against Ponte Preta. The last visit to China by an NASL team was the New York Cosmos in 1977.
The Strikers open the 2016 NASL season on April 2 against Miami FC at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.
ABOUT THE NASL
The North American Soccer League is a professional soccer league established in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The NASL member teams are: Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Indy Eleven, Jacksonville Armada FC, Miami FC, Minnesota United FC, New York Cosmos, Ottawa Fury FC, Puerto Rico FC, Rayo OKC, and Tampa Bay Rowdies. For more information about the league, visit www.NASL.com. Follow the NASL on Twitter and Instagram at @NASLOfficial and Facebook at www.Facebook.com/NASLFanPage.
# # #