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Chinese kids score 'F' for soccer skills

(Global Times)

09:14, October 26, 2011

A children's soccer match between Chinese and Russian primary age students, in which the visiting team thrashed the hosts by 15 goals to nil, has led to soul-searching over whether there is any future for soccer in China.

Fans and players alike are wondering if the nation's examination-oriented education system is to blame for the team's failure.

A microblogger posted pictures of the game on his Sina Weibo account Monday night, with the caption "pupils of Ditan Primary School couldn't handle a 40-minute match so it was shortened to 20 minutes, and the result was 0:15. Our kids were defeated because of a big physical quality gap."

The Weibo entry was reposted around 20,000 times Tuesday, with upset Web users discussing if the emphasis on exam results above all else "sabotages the children's physical health and future Chinese soccer stars."

Hao Haidong, one of China's most successful soccer internationals, added to the debate Tuesday.

"It seems our kids were even bigger [physically] than the Russian children, actually we were just more chubby. And that's what happens when the parents care more about academic scores rather than independent personality, healthy body and other values," the former player for English league club Sheffield United posted on Weibo.

Ditan primary's vice-principal, surnamed Wei, said that Monday's game was the first time the team had competed with foreign students, and the result was predictable. There is only one other primary school in Dongcheng district they can play against, he said.

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