The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in Canada on June 6, and for the first time, the Chinese Women’s National Team will wear new Nike football kits in the tournament. After eight years of rebuilding, a new and improved Team China will face host country Canada in the tournament opener. Earlier in 2015, Nike and the Chinese Football Association formed a new partnership announcing Nike as the official kit sponsor for Team China, which includes 12 national teams of various levels.
Team China’s Fearless Brilliance
Since the women’s international tournament began in 1991, Team China had qualified for five consecutive finals up until 2007, marking their last time in the competition. In 1999, China beat defending champions Norway 5-0 in the semi-final, only to lose the final in one of the sport’s most memorable moments: a penalty shootout against the U.S. team in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Although finishing runners-up, Team China’s fearless brilliance won them the nickname of “Steel Roses” back home. In the 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, Team China made it to the semis, before losing to Japan in the last minute of extra time. In the battle for third place, China defeated South Korea and qualified for the competition this summer in Canada.
For the first time, Nike will equip the China National Women’s Football Team with home and away national uniforms. The home kit will feature the symbolic red as the main color, and comes coupled with a classic white away kit.
Designed specifically to fit the body shape of female players, the uniform allows the body to move more naturally and effortlessly improves players’ comfort and performance. Nike Dri-FIT technology draws sweat away from the body to the exterior of the shirts and shorts, where it quickly evaporates. This allows players to perform at their absolute best by remaining cooler, drier and more comfortable. The laser-cut ventilation holes in key areas of the kit are designed to improve performance by increasing air circulation to the players’ bodies and helping regulate their temperatures.
“Football is rising in popularity in China. We see more and more young people taking an interest in the sport. Nike’s mission is to help them perform better and inspire more to play,” said Steve Tsoi, Nike Marketing VP of Greater China. “With fearless determination and perseverance, the China Women’s National Football Team players have inspired a whole new generation of athletes. These inspirational players have focused on improving their game and have earned true respect from fans across China and the world.”
The “Steel Roses” Rise Again
Despite missing out on the competition four years ago, the Steel Roses’ spirit has inspired a return to the top for generations of Chinese women football players. With all 25 players without any previous experience at the tournament, the upcoming competition is just the beginning of a new journey. With an average age of only 23.5 years old, the young team looks to rewrite history.
This summer in Canada will without a doubt be the biggest stage to demonstrate our football skills. We have to be fearless on the pitch and show the world what we can do,” said Team China captain Wu Haiyan. “As captain, I not only want to perform my best personally, but also inspire my teammates and lead them to victory.”
While young, the players of Team China face the competition feeling steadier, more mature and more confident than in years past. Their self-assurance has resulted in the brilliance seen on the pitch, bringing them one stride closer to their dream of succeeding at the international tournament.
“As a striker, my task is to attack my opponent’s goal relentlessly. I must pour 100 percent of my energy into every sprint,” said forward Li Ying. “Our youth does not give us pressure; it gives us power. We are already fully prepared for the matches ahead.”