The Wolves have touched down safely in China – after a journey of almost 9,000 kilometres – and received a warm welcome, both from the local football fans who greeted them at the team hotel and from the weather, with temperatures reaching 30 degrees and a fair degree of humidity added in. "Coming from Germany, it’s the humidity that’s the biggest difference," said Wolves goalie Pavao Pervan. "The second you start moving a little more, you’re immediately dripping with sweat."
Training with 60 kids and a lion dance performance
After arriving in Foshan – a city that is home to seven million inhabitants – the Wolves had no time for rest and relaxation in what was already a busy schedule. A VfL delegation made up of coaches, players and VfL CEO Dr Tim Schumacher was invited to the Volkswagen Football Camp to run various parts of a training session for 60 kids, while Maximilian Arnold, Elvis Rexhbecaj and Tim Mertens got to see the Wong Fei-hung Memorial Hall. The three were given a guided tour of the courtyards of the museum, giving them an insight into Chinese culture, kung fu and the traditional lion dance. Wolves head coach Bruno Labbadia, director of sport Marcel Schäfer and a few of the players then paid a visit to a school in the district of Chancheng, setting up a training session for the 15-strong school football team while the rest of the pupils cheered them on from the stands.
"An exciting country for us"
"China is an exciting country for us because there is an increasing interest in football here, and also because it is a very important market for our partner, Volkswagen," said VfL CEO Michael Meeske, who sees the trip as an opportunity to attract new fans and also new partners, both for VfL Wolfsburg and for the sport in general. "We have had our own office in Beijing since 2017 and have continually increased the number of Chinese partners that we have. Trips like this one are the next logical step." The Wolves will be staying in Foshan until the evening of Friday 24 May, with the trip being rounded off by an all-Bundesliga clash with Eintracht Frankfurt (kick-off at 14:00 CEST). Along with head coach Bruno Labbadia and his staff, the travelling party was made up of Maximilian Arnold, Ismail Azzaoui, Yannick Gerhardt, Josuha Guilavogui, Sebastian Jung, Felix Klaus, Robin Knoche, Pavao Pervan, Elvis Rexhbecaj and William from the professional ranks, as well as Nico Pellatz and Max-Peter Klump from the U-23s and Sidnei Balde Djalo, Tim Mertens and Tom Joshua Kinitz from the U-19s. In addition to the players, VfL CEOs Michael Meeske and Dr Tim Schumacher, sporting director Marcel Schäfer and brand ambassador Pierre Littbarski also travelled to Foshan.