China trials football kindergartens
China, which has a population of 1.4 billion but has continually underachieved in football, will start trialing the kindergartens this year, state media said.
Citing the ministry of education, Xinhua news agency said that “each provincial-level region” will have 50 to 200 football-centric kindergartens.
“The pilot program aims to cultivate interest in football in children through popular football games and create an atmosphere favorable for football culture to grow,” Xinhua said, citing a ministry directive.
“Various physical activities tailored for kids will be held, during which children are encouraged to run, jump, climb, throw and shoot balls.”
Li Jianli, director of a kindergarten in the Chinese capital, told the Global Times: “We have soccer coaches for kids who are over five and many other kindergartens in Beijing run soccer programs too.”
In October, the Chinese Football Association announced plans for 10,000 kindergartens across the country.
Football-fan president Xi has expressed ambitions for China to qualify for, host and win the World Cup.
So far China has qualified for the World Cup only once, in 2002, when it failed to win a point or score a goal.
The country languishes at 72nd in the FIFA rankings, stewing between Macedonia and El Salvador, and has lost its last three matches on the spin.