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Official says soccer should have priority

Updated: 2011-03-16 07:24

By Wang Huazhong (China Daily)

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BEIJING - When the daughter of the first sports department head of China proposed to recruit a soccer team made up of soldiers, a top official with the paramilitary police also gave legislators a plan meant to place a greater priority on the sport in China.

On the sidelines of the just-ended plenary session of the National People's Congress, Wang Hailiang, Party chief of Yunnan's Armed Police Force, suggested taking the next 20 to 30 years to rouse enthusiasm for the sport, add to the number of people playing it, encourage international exchanges of players and undertake an anti-corruption campaign.

More concretely, he proposed that playing the game be made compulsory for students in primary and higher schools. His goal is "to encourage people to love soccer more by making them more familiar with it".

"A standard pitch extolling the benefits of soccer is needed and should be built into the curriculum of all middle schools and universities."

He said every county, city and province should organize soccer leagues to attract young players and to ensure that schools recognize the game's importance.

He said China should insist on sending at least 1,000 players of various ages overseas every year - a practice he hopes will produce at least 10 first-class players each year. He said the country is certainly up to the task.

"Even as countries that have populations numbering in the millions or that struggle with poverty make it to the World Cup finals. China, with a population of 1.3 billion people, has been scratching its head to find 11 people (for a team)."

"The performance of Chinese soccer does not match China's international status, does not live up to the public's expectations and does not fit in with the fact that China won the largest number of gold medals in the Beijing Olympic Games."

The 57-year-old man said he likes soccer but not to the point of being a fanatic. He closely watches his country's athletic performances while working to stay in good shape himself; he said he takes 50 minutes every weekend to swim 2,000 meters.

Compared with other games, "soccer can represent a country's athletic abilities and the quality of its citizens."

Asked if his proposal places too much of a priority on soccer to the detriment of other games, he said: "If Chinese soccer does not rise, then the rise of China has been neither complete nor thorough."

"In peace time, soccer is the game that can rouse the public's esteem for the country, rouse the nations' pride and encourage national unity."

According to Southern Weekly, He Jiesheng - a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee and daughter of the late general and sports department head He Long - suggested that China recruit a soccer team composed of soldiers this year.

The reason cited by the Guangzhou-based newspaper: "Soldiers are disciplined, organized and aggressive."

China Daily


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