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Catch 'em young for soccer

China Daily | Updated: 2014-11-17 07:33

Soccer officials in China should get rid of their utilitarian pursuit and take practical measures to promote the game in schools and colleges for self-salvation, says an article in Modern Express. Excerpts:

The State Council issued a guideline last month to expedite the development of the country's sports industry, which includes the promotion of soccer on school and college campuses. The Ministry of Education has followed up that guideline with a plan to build 20,000 soccer training institutes across the country. At the provincial level, authorities in Jiangsu province have taken steps to popularize soccer on campus.

These are welcome moves for the development of the world's most popular game in China.

Soccer officials in China have long been preoccupied with helping the national team to qualify for major international tournaments or promoting club soccer by, among other things, inviting foreign players to take part. If they don't change this mindset, Chinese soccer players can never be counted among the world's best.

Popularizing soccer on campus is the only way that China can produce world-class players and a world-beating team. The poor record of the Chinese soccer team can be attributed to the lack of efforts to cultivate good soccer players from a young age. No wonder, at times not enough good players can be found for China's youth soccer team.

The government's efforts to popularize soccer on campus are expected to build a true soccer culture in China. But practical measures are needed to ensure the well-conceived plan is a success. For example, an institutional guarantee has to be in place to ensure good players have enough time to practice their skills, without being bogged down by the examination-oriented education system. Also, soccer fields should be built in schools that don't have such a facility and qualified coaches must be appointed to train the budding players.

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