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Plan issued to boost football in schools

2014-07-31 08:57 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

Experts question practicality of new tournament system

China plans to introduce football league tournaments to schools and universities in an effort to improve football education standards, Chinese education authorities revealed on Monday.

Education Minister Yuan Guiren said at a national sports education symposium that football training at schools and universities would be prioritized, the China Education Daily reported on Wednesday.

A four-tier league system covering primary schools, high schools and universities will be introduced this year, opening a growth channel for young football talent and building a substantial reserve of skilled football players, said Yuan.

Yuan's remarks came amid disappointment among Chinese public after the Chinese national football team failed to qualify for the last three FIFA World Cups.

He urged the formulation and implementation of a middle- and long-term development plan for young soccer player training.

According to the plan, about 20,000 schools, including primary and high schools as well as universities, will develop football training programs in the next three years, an increase from the 5,000 involved today.

"It's not about the number of soccer schools that are planned to be built, but the real substance of related programs," said Chu Chaohui, a research fellow with the National Institute of Educational Sciences.

"Countries which are strong in soccer performance are not pushed by policy, but a supportive culture for football, in which students, free from homework and exam pressure, are allowed to play and enjoy football after school," said Wang Dazhao, a sports critic and senior member of the Chinese Football Association.

Chu suggests a new assessment system be introduced to ensure the overall quality and effectiveness of the enhanced physical education curriculum.

"Such a system would be to have the physical well-being of students assessed by professional sports institutions, as the ultimate goal of the reform should be the improvement of students' physical health," said Chu.

The General Administration of Sport of China has designated 5,084 football schools in the past five years, but the investment into them rose to 56 million yuan ($9.07 million) since last year, which stands in stark contrast to Germany's hefty sum worth 700 million euro ($938.09 million) each year, the Beijing Youth Daily reported Wednesday.

"Only a few teams sent by primary and high schools in Beijing have played in matches. Paltry matches are thrown among elementary and junior high schools while league matches among senior high schools are almost non-existent," said Yang Anli, a ex-football player of the Bayi Football Club, who now trains young players, the Beijing Youth Daily reported Wednesday.

The Outline of the National Plan for Football Development in Campuses (2015-2020) is expected to be issued after half a year of research conducted by education and sports authorities.

The outline will coordinate links between education and sports authorities, considered a key aspect of reforming the training system in schools.

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