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University kicks off new future for soccer

By Huang Zhiling in Chengdu | China Daily | Updated: 2015-07-17 07:52

When a plaque was unveiled this week for the new soccer department at Chengdu Sport University in Sichuan province, soccer teacher Tang Zhongping was overcome with emotion.

The plaque was displayed on Tuesday bv Chen Wei, Party chief of the university, and Liu Qing, its president.

"Our university became the first institution of higher learning in China to set up such a department, showing its commitment to raise the level of the sport in the country," Tang said.

"China is a big country with a low level of soccer that is not on par with its status," added the 35-year-old, who has been at the university for 15 years, first as a soccer major and then a soccer teacher.

After the central government announced a master plan in March to reform soccer, decision-makers at the university began planning the merger of its departments of physical education and sports to form a soccer department the following month.

Ou Xuesong, an information officer at the university, said: "The Faculty of Physical Education and the Faculty of Sports had soccer majors. The former trained students to be soccer teachers and the latter trained soccer players."

With the launch of the new department, about 200 soccer majors at the merged departments will become students there. The new one will enroll an additional 200 freshmen this year.

"They will come from high schools and there will be athletes with high school diplomas. They will be trained to be soccer teachers, players and coaches after graduating from the university," Ou said.

Students at the new department will have 829 soccer classes, compared with 480 for soccer majors at the two that merged.

The new department has been launched in response to the central government's master plan to improve the level of soccer in China and to remedy a shortage of soccer teachers.

Ou said that Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, needs more than 1,000 soccer teachers for its primary and high schools.

"Teachers with majors such as martial arts have to teach soccer at some schools as an alternative," he said.

The lack of teachers has boosted employment prospects for soccer majors.

At a job fair in Chengdu in early spring, primary and high schools in the city signed contracts with all 30-plus soccer majors who attended.

Peng Xu, a 21-year-old soccer major, will be a senior at the new department in September.

Peng serves as a coach at a soccer club for youngsters launched by the university in March.

More than 100 students from primary schools who are about 10 years old have joined the club and are being trained by Peng and his colleagues on the university field every day this summer.

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