Article Date: 03-12-2016
So it's coming to that time of the season again where I am constantly asked the same repeated question. Can we get a training pitch. Unfotunately the answer is pretty much a big fat solid no.
There are quite a few reasons for this and I will go through some of them to explain here.
Lack of Pitches
Taipei City has a distinct lack of sports facilities in general so when you narrow it down again to specifically look for football pitches it makes that task of finding a training pitch a lot more difficult.
As far as I am aware there are only 4 pitches currently that could be used for our games in Taipei City, with the best one being at Fujen University. As well as this pitch, there are also pitches at Fuhe, Bailin and Dajia which all come equipped with varying degrees of grass (there is no grass or it's over your knees,) massive craters, dog shit, among loads of other stuff, we even found a fish on one pitch before a match.
The So Called 'We Own the Pitch' Bullshit
Go to Dajia and try and have a kick about. A group called the Peacocks will rock up and then tell you they own the pitch. You have to get off. If you don't get off they will call a truck full of blokes to come down with baseball bats to sort you out.
Try and go to Bailin and Fritz own the pitch. They allow no one to use it only them and the BML which Fritz seem to be heavily involved with anyway. You can somehow get the pitch booked through them sometimes if you have a contact with them but they charge the same price as it costs for Fujen University. They also con you with telling you they need to do the lines, and if they don't do the lines you can't book the pitch. The lines can barely be seen, if you rock up a bit before the game there is usually a bloke with a paintbrush and a bucket of white paint.
There is a pitch that I don't think is full size at Taipei Zoo, also apparently owned by a team. All they do is play friendlies. We enquired about using their pitch and paying for it, they refused and said it's just for them and no one else.
Try and go to Taida and have a kick about, there is a group there claiming they 'own' the field there. I did inform them you clearly don't own the field because I climbed through a hole in the fence instead of walking through the gate. Also they kick off and cause loads of trouble for you for tackling, telling them time is up, or telling them to pass. They act violently if you don't listen to their bullshit of 'owning' the pitch so I went once, and left before I smacked one of them in the face.
We tried to go training in Xinchuang in the past. It is a public area and the field shoudl be shared. We took up a square in the corner, and then a group of people playing frisbee caused loads of bother telling us they 'owned' the pitch.
We had a kick about at a school on Xinyi road, and some guys came who were in charge of Football Family in T2 telling us they owned the pitch there, and we had to leave.
The list is endless, but this shitty bullshit mentality of 'I/we own the pitch' causes so much trouble. I/the Magpies could just fight them but what would that achieve.
This whole shitty mentality is ingrained in soceity here, and some foreign groups try the same bullshit too by acting like the locals.
Older Teams, Secured the Best Places
The teams that have been running for a longer time have as expected secured the only decent places to train on. People always suggest Shipai pitch. What they don't realise is Shipai pitch is already pretty much booked out every night of the week by Lions and Taiwanese teams and groups, and by Carnegies on the weekend. Carnegies have a training sessions at Dajia, Shipai, and Fujen.
The fact that the older teams obviously have the best places secured makes it a lot more difficult for the newer teams in the league as we all have to scour all of Taipei City in search of new places. When we do find them the schools or owners of the pitches are uncooperative. Meaning we never manage to book any of them.
Guanxi is a concept in Chinese speaking countries or areas. If you have Guanxi it means you have made connections and contacts with people you need to. This helps in all areas of life, but it is especially helpful if you are trying to do any kind of business or book anything.
It also matters when it comes to dealing with the schools to book their pitches. If you don't have any Guanxi the chances of them letting you train at their school are slim to none.
However, they won't just say this to you. They will roll out certain excuses, like call back during this time (when the person dealing with the field is out normally) or we will get back to you and they never do.
Meaning they just leave you hanging on until you give up and go away.
The older teams have already created this Guanxi, which can be described as friendships or networking.
The cold hard fact is that a lot of football pitches in Taiwan don't have any lights. This means you would either have to train before it got dark, or on the weekend. We normally have a league game on the weekend and there is no chance of getting people to train before 6pm due to work.
Why Don't We Book an Indoor Place
The reason we have never booked anywhere indoor, or even tried to is soley down to the cost implications. You need to pay a deposit, you need to pay the water costs, you need to pay the electric costs and you need to pay the rental costs.
Add to this that none of the schools indoor places have any five a side goals, or even have anything to set up to support playing indoor football, then it just makes even thinking about booking these places a little bit pointless.
Our Thursday Night Cooperation With Royal Blues
We still have our Thursday night cooperation with Royal Blues to train at Fujen University, but due to the Universade games being hosted in Taiwan the school are rebuilding the stand area. Due to this they currently don't have any electrics meaning that we cannot train there.
We have been in constand communication with Royal Blues management and the earliest it seems that it will be back open is March 2017.
Even then we are not that hopeful of getting to train again from then due to the fact the school might want to keep everything nice before the Uni games starts.
Taiwanese Associations Bending the Rules
As far as I am aware, and I have it on good authority that the Taiwanese groups that have formed associations should only be allocated these pitches for 1 day a week. As far as I am aware they cannot re rent out these pitches either but they do. They should only be able to use it for their allocated day. The people who have passed this information onto me know more about football than me here as they have been around the scene a lot longer.
If this case is true, then the Taiwanese associations are taking liberties when it comes to with holding people from using the pitch and using them as a money making scheme.
Locals Booking out the Pitch for the Whole Day Just in Case they Need It.
There are times when we try and book somewhere but get told that it is already booked. Then when you go by and check it out there is no one there. This has happened so often since we started the team it's not even funny anymore.
This is a case of the selfish mentality that festers here like the plague and creeps into everything. They would rather block anyone from using it just in case there is a chance they might want to use it.
Won't Let Adults Play on The Pitch
A lot of places said they will refuse to allow adults to use their pitches because they will break the grass and it will have to be replaced or fixed. This is why you charge for it to be used in the first place so it can be maintained.
This also extends to being foreign. I don't really want to make this a thing about it being because I am foreign. The fact is a lot of schools just refuse to deal with me because I am a foreigner.
These are just a few reasons why it's such a problematic task to find a training pitch here. If anyone knows of a place where we can train until Fujen allow us to go back then please do contact us.