Foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tion vows to build 10,000 soc­cer kinder­gartens

Global Times US Edition - - TOPNEWS - By Shan Jie

China’s soc­cer au­thor­ity has vowed to open 10,000 soc­cer kinder­gartens across the coun­try by 2020.

The chil­dren’s soc­cer project hosted by the Chi­nese Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion was launched in Bei­jing on Wed­nes­day to pro­mote soc­cer among chil­dren 3-6 years old and ex­pand the soc­cer pop­u­la­tion, the Xin­hua News Agency re­ported on Thurs­day.

The plan calls for open­ing 10,000 soc­cer kinder­gartens by 2020.

Start­ing Wed­nes­day, the Chi­nese Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion will hold a youth soc­cer pro­mo­tion month to mo­bi­lize sub-as­so­ci­a­tions and so­ci­ety to pro­mote soc­cer through sem­i­nars and work with pro­fes­sional soc­cer leagues in China.

In 1979, Deng Xiaop­ing, a soc­cer fan, pro­moted the idea that cul­ti­vat­ing soc­cer play­ers should start young.

For chil­dren at kinder­garten age, play­ing soc­cer is more a game to keep them oc­cu­pied, Wang Dazhao, a Bei­jing-based soc­cer com­men­ta­tor, told the Global Times on Wed­nes­day.

“They do not nec­es­sar­ily un­der­stand the rules,” Wang said.

The project could grad­u­ally nur­ture soc­cer tal­ent in China, Wang be­lieved.

“But the pop­u­lar­iza­tion of soc­cer among chil­dren would be long-term, maybe one or two gen­er­a­tions,” he said.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion in Fe­bru­ary an­nounced a plan to raise the num­ber of “schools char­ac­ter­ized by soc­cer” to 20,000 by the end of the year and 50,000 by 2025.

China launched its soc­cer re­form pro­gram in 2015 and un­veiled an am­bi­tious blue­print in April 2016 to get 50 mil­lion chil­dren and adults play­ing soc­cer by the end of the decade, with the ul­ti­mate goal of be­com­ing a “world soc­cer power” by 2050.

China’s men’s soc­cer team has qual­i­fied for the World Cup fi­nals once, in 2002.

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