Chinese women's soccer still in the mire

Updated: 2013-01-18 11:09


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YONGCHUAN, Chongqing - China finally clinched a win by beating South Korea 2-0 in a women's soccer invitational event here, pleasing the Chinese fans but at the same time mirroring its downfall over a decade.

China were placed third in the four-team event Wednesday with one win and two defeats, a mediocre result that can hardly remind people of the team's glorious past.

"China team have no stars," Said John Herdman, head coach of Canada, during the Four-Nation invatational event. "China used to have Han Duan, Li Jie. But in this team, I don't see any prominent players."

China's head coach Hao Wei said, "The best players in China are already here. What can we do now? We can only train harder and harder, encourage and foster them so that they can become mature tactically and mentally."

In the past decade, China's women soccer has been suffering from the lack of talent, insufficient investment and little attention, despite the fact that women players won a silver in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and then another silver in the 1999 World Cup.

In 2001 women's Asian Cup, China's dethronement forced head coach Ma Yuanan to resign. And China's women's soccer began a nightmare, in which the team changed 11 coaches over only a decade. However, the team's performance was getting worse and worse. In 2010, China failed to reach the World Cup finals for the first time. In 2011, China failed to advance to the Olympics for the first time. In 2012, China settled for ninth place in the Algarve Cup, the worst result for the team in the tournament.

In the current team, there is 33-year-old Pu Wei who was a member of 1999 World Cup runner-up squad. She came back from retirement three months ago. "I want to help my team especially when it is still in a difficult time," said Pu.

"There are four generations in our team. The youngest is 15 years younger than me." she added.

Qi Jun, head of Competitions Department of Chinese Football Association (CFA), said:" We don't have many girl playing soccer."

According to statistics by CFA, the United States have over 800,000 people who take up women's soccer. Germany have more than 350,000 people. Reigning world champions Japan have 35,000 registered women players. While China only have over 7,000 registered women players above the age of 12.

"Besides the above problems, we don't have enough money to spend on women's soccer," added Qi."Moreover, women's soccer can not get much exposure. So it can not develop to be as popular as in America in the near future."

"What we can do now is to make the competition platform larger and more reasonable, attract more girls to get interested in the sport, and to make full use of social resources," said Qi."The era of Steel Roses is already gone. We have to face the current situation and find solutions."

"I think we are on the right track now. If we make painstaking efforts, China's women's soccer will be something one day." said Hao Wei.