Bayern stars boost China's game plan

Updated: 2015-07-28 08:32

By Xu Jingxi in Guangzhou(China Daily)

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Reignited passion

Bayern stars boost China's game plan

The 22 youngsters who took part in the practice session were from Guangzhou's Yushatan Primary School, whose soccer team finished second in its age group in a national competition in February.

More than 10,000 teams entered the event, jointly organized by CCTV, the General Administration of Sport and the Ministry of Education, which highlighted reignited passion for the sport.

A national soccer development plan was approved in February by the central reform group, chaired by President Xi Jinping, an avid soccer fan, to encourage youngsters to get involved in the sport.

According to the plan, the Ministry of Education aims to introduce soccer training at primary and secondary schools nationwide and to increase the number of schools featuring soccer from the current level of 5,000 to 50,000 by 2025.

By that time, there should be 50 million players at schools, which means China will have the biggest "soccer population" in the world, nearly 10 times the number of Germany.

That expansion will provide a much larger talent pool to draw from, said Wang Dengfeng, director of the ministry's physical education, health and arts department.

The youth soccer promotion program is also expected to increase public awareness and support of the sport, while enterprises, like FAW-Volkswagen, will allocate even more resources to boost the game, according to Zhang Bin, a CCTV sports anchorman.

Zhang believes the youth soccer training camps that FAW-Volkswagen plans to set up are similar to those set up by the German soccer association in its own country at the beginning of this century in order to resuscitate German soccer after the national team's poor performances at the World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000.

"The German soccer association did two things," said Zhang.

"On one hand, it sent well-trained coaches to the centers it opened all over the country to give kids elite training. On the other, it bridged the centers with the youth training systems of professional clubs, paving a smooth channel for young amateurs with star quality to rise to professional players.

"The Chinese Football Association alone doesn't have the resources to cover 1.4 billion people in the vast land of China, but enterprises can help make it happen with a joint effort."