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How foreigners view China's soccer development

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-07-07 10:10


The teaching and coaching of sport in China is one area that I feel is most lacking. A drive to ensure health and fitness has resulted in PE lessons that are wholly devoted to running, marching and jumping. There is little enthusiasm for PE teachers to do more. While boys create their own activities in long moments between these activities such as shooting a ball at a hoop, girls are desperate to do something but only stand around in small groups talking and watching the boys. There are often no "sports" lessons at all. What sports have I observed? Ping pong and badminton, volleyball, basketball, a little tennis in a gym.... all largely untaught. I have rarely seen any proper tuition or an organized full competitive game. "Sports days" seem to be more of a show for parents, with little tuition and practice of limited athletic events. Little opportunity for swimming of course. PE teachers seem to just swagger about doing very little. (I recognize that these observations may be very subjective).

In the west girls enjoy so many sports. When I ask them about sport, they assume I mean their PE lessons and therefore reply that they are boring. How right they are. I feel so sad about this.

I asked a PE teacher if he could introduce soccer to the school as a proper taught sport. His answer was firstly there was no time (a usual reply to anything new), and that he was worried about student safety. Apparently if a student hurts himself in a sporting accident, the teacher is blamed and punished!

It follows that any activities in a school that involve risk must be banned! Yet the boys are allowed to run around with a basketball, risking twisted ankles and broken fingers? Maybe the last excuse was just that.. a reason for not doing anything that involves some real work!

It begs the question of how well China does in international competitions. Are there special schools for lucky individuals who are chosen to go there? With such a huge population, China should statistically be at the very top of international sporting competitions with so many potentially skilled sportsmen and women.

I welcome the initiative to introduce soccer into Chinese schools. I hope it is just the beginning of a proper and organized sports curriculum instead of a boring regime of marching and running around a track. I hope it is the beginning of properly trained and enthusiastic sports teachers who teach instead of standing around blowing whistles.

Former England soccer star David Beckham joins students in a game at Zhixin Middle School in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on June 28, 2016. TANG MINGMING / FOR CHINA DAILY


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