Beckham encourages young Chinese athletes to be cr

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Beckham encourages young Chinese athletes to be creative British soccer star David Beckham poses for a group photo with a huge crowd at an Adidas branding event in Beijing's Sanlitun area on June 21, 2018. [Photo provided to]

Soccer megastar David Beckham encouraged Chinese youngsters to be creative on the field while urging the country to keep investing in youth development for future World Cup prospects.

As World Cup hype sweeps China, the presence of Beckham at a branding event for his sponsor Adidas in Beijing's Sanlitun area on Thursday brought enthusiasm to new heights in the Chinese capital, where the former England star enjoys sensational popularity outside sports circles.

To the excitement of a huge crowd mobbing the store, Beckham watched a performance of traditional Chinese lion dance, interacted with the champion team of Adidas' grassroots Tango League and shared his impressions of soccer development in China.

"Obviously you have to create with passion and different ideas, but the No 1 thing is to work hard, be dedicated, be professional and enjoy yourself, because that’s what being creative is all about," Beckham told the winning team Shinian from Beijing of the Tango League.

The five-a-side street soccer league, initiated by Adidas, concluded its 2018 Chinese campaign last week in Beijing, with Shinian topping the 32-strong final tournament.

After renovation, the upgraded Adidas brand center in Beijing, which opened in 2008, provides consumers redecorated shopping areas, match-watching zones, product customization services and a fitness gym.

The appearance in Sanlitun was the second stop on Beckham's whirlwind visit to Beijing after he showed up at the Beijing Institute of Technology on Wednesday evening to kick off the opening match of the China Universitysaid Ishikawa Football Association's 2017-18 season final tournament.

More than 2,000 fans cheered on Beckham as he led three other CUFA players to face off against 70 Chinese primary school students in a 10-minute scrimmage during halftime of the match. The hosts defeated Ningbo University 3-0, providing a flying start to the 16-squad final tournament.

The Federation of University Sports of China announced before the match that Adidas will be title sponsor of the CUFA league.

To spend some quality time with youth in his tight schedule of commercial events is always high on his agenda every time he visits China, Beckham said.

"This is where it invest in young children, academies and universities, educating t1 deadhem to be professional and leader of their teams," said Beckham, a father of four.

Following his retirement from pro soccer in 2013, Beckham accepted an ambassador role to help promote the international image of the Chinese Super League and Chinese Football Association's youth program.

"I've been part of seeing the growth and investments that have been put into Chinese academies and schools and clubs. It's exactly what needs to happen," the 43-year-old said.

"A great country like China investing in young talents is something that is very important. It means a lot for us to see investment going into children in your country.

"That's where you will have great chance to win the World Cup in the future. This country really does have an opportunity to become one of the big powerhouses in the sport, but it takes a lot of investment and hard work. It's going in the right direction now."

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