What Links Football, 450-Year-Old Harrow School and Beijing?

By Alistair Baker-Brian, November 14, 2022

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As one of the most iconic public schools in the United Kingdom, Harrow School has a long history – 450 years to be precise. 

Since 2005, Harrow School has been established in Beijing, bringing its esteemed brand of education to the Chinese capital. Harrow currently has campuses in Anzhenmen and Hegezhuang, both located in Chaoyang district. 

What is Harrow School’s Link with Football? 

While 2022 marks Harrow School’s 450th anniversary, this year also marks the 150th anniversary of the FA Cup – a key football tournament involving clubs from all over England and Wales. 

The FA (Football Association) is England’s football governing body and its history is intertwined with Harrow School.

On March 16, 2022, FA Chair, Debbie Hewitt unveiled a plaque at Harrow School dedicated to Charles Alcock – a former Harrow pupil credited with the founding of the FA. 

The first final of the FA Cup – the world’s oldest domestic cup competition – took place 150 years ago on March 16, 1872. 

So… What About Beijing? 

That’s was recently contacted by Ian Steele the of Head of Admissions and Development at Harrow Beijing.

If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Steele is the man behind Custom Beijing which has produced a Beijing version of Monopoly…

READ MORE: Meet the Man Who Created 'Beijing Monopoly'  

… and another Beijing-themed board game, Beijing Nights.

READ MORE: Remember Beijing Monopoly? There's a New Beijing Board Game Out

Steele told us how the 450th anniversary is being marked in the Chinese capital. 

As part of the events taking place throughout 2022, the Harrow group of schools has been welcoming a traditional-style football on its journey through the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan. 

Recently, the ball arrived in Beijing where a select group of under-12 and under-14 footballers were joined by Rachel Dent – head of Harrow Beijing – as well as other academic staff. 


Harrow Beijing staff are joined by under-12 and under-14 footballers for a photograph outside the Bird's Nest Stadium 

There were also two special VIPs, including Wang Liping, a Chinese footballing hero following her Olympic silver medal at Atlanta 1996 and FIFA Women’s World Cup runners-up medal in 1999; and Liu Jingsong, advisor to the China Football Development Foundation, instructor for the China Football Association and FIFA/AFC expert panel member.


Head of Harrow Beijing, Rachel Dent can be seen alongside Wang Liping (left) and Liu Jingsong (right)

The VIPs accompanied the teams for a celebratory photograph at the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird's Nest.

Dent had the following to say:

“Being the Head of Harrow Beijing at the time of such a milestone is a real privilege and an honor.

“With 2022 also being a World Cup year, what better way to embrace the sense of teamwork and fellowship that is so embodied within the sport of football, and which is personified by the outstanding players who represent Harrow Beijing here today.  

“To be joined by Ms. Wang and Mr. Liu provides aspiration for our young players as they look to their futures as both students, and sportsmen and women. This event has allowed us to demonstrate our character through the traditions of Harrow London, but to help shape our core identity as Harrow Beijing.”

Having already stopped at Harrow Bangkok, the football continues its journey. The next stops in China include Harrow Shanghai, Harrow Chongqing, Harrow Nanning, Harrow Zhuhai, Harrow Haikou, Harrow Shenzhen and Harrow Hong Kong.

The football’s journey will finish at the newest of the Harrow International Schools in Appi, Japan. 

[All images via Ian Steele/Harrow Beijing]

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