Experts see player enthusiasm as key

Updated: 2015-03-25 07:46

By Sun Xiaochen(China Daily)

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The foundation for Chinese soccer to prosper must be developed at the school level, but experts said that the school curriculum should be expanded based on students' interests, not administrative orders.

A picture taken recently at a primary school in Luoyang, Henan province - showing students doing aerobics-like soccer exercise and holding the ball in their hands instead of dribbling with their feet - caused heated debate about whether soccer promotion at the school was carried out too aggressively and against the game's nature and students' interests.

"It seems they are trying to train hundreds of goalkeepers at the same time. Soccer training shouldn't be taken as a group performance holding a ball. What appears in the picture seems more style than substance," Li Chunman, an Asian Football Confederation-licensed soccer lecturer, said of the controversial workout on Sunday.

Last week the State Council expanded soccer training in schools as a mandatory physical education class.

The reform plan was approved in February at a top-level meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping, who is an avid soccer fan.

According to the plan, the Education Ministry aims to introduce special soccer training at 50,000 primary and secondary schools by 2025, up from the current 5,000, with the goal of cultivating more than 100,000 youth players.

A four-tier campus league system initiated by the Education Ministry, channeling primary schools to colleges nationwide, will kick off its inaugural season this autumn to replace previous competitions organized by the Chinese Football Association and regional sports bureaus to engage more children, said Wang Dengfeng, director of the ministry's PE, Health and Art Department.

Soccer courses have been added to primary and secondary schools' mandatory PE programs in pilot areas such as Beijing and Jiangsu under a revised curriculum.

Students' soccer level as a specialty will be counted as part of their overall performance assessment and become an important reference in college admission, Wang said.