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Soccer & team sports in China

Popularity 6Viewed 2602 times 2015-5-24 15:09 |Personal category:Sport|System category:Life| soccer, team, sport

Further to listening ton an interview on CCTV about the development of soccer in China, I feel that my own views expressed in an earlier blog are most appropriate.
Individual skills have always been encouraged in China but without the added benefit of initiative and forethought. Such individual skills can be easily measures, rewarded and developed. Individual events in the Olympic Games always feature China as a leading country. However, China's performance in team events disappointing. Teamwork, sharing and cooperation have not been encouraged except in singing and dancing.
Why is team sport so important for individuals and for a country?
For a person it exemplifies the importance of sharing and cooperation. For a team to succeed every player is an important cog in the team machine. A team member must learn to work with his team-mates and not take advantage of them for their own selfish benefit. Typical is the selfish attitude of young players who think they are the best because they can keep the ball longest without passing it. They quickly learn that their team cannot win with only one player hogging the ball.  This concept leads to another blog I wrote recently about Chinese people being completely unaware of what is happening around them. They are brought up to only think of their own needs and importance. This can easily lead to corruption and dishonesty, which is exactly what happened recently in Chinese national soccer teams. "The best way to win is to cheat!"  If they work as a team the only way cheating might occur is by management match fixing.
Individual members of a team learn to help each-other. They develop fitness and skills with the team. A team sport encourages thinking, decision making, forethought and initiative.
In schools team sport encourages mutual respect, tolerance and patience. It develops trust and social skills so severely lacking in Chinese life. It enables the encouragement of team-mates for the individual to work harder.  PE in schools here is devoted to fitness training and passing a test of fitness. Few, if any team sports are introduced or coached. Individual talent in a sport is only developed if recognised and sent to a "special" sports school. This practice is impossible in the coaching of a team sport.
What benefit has team sport to a country?
Leading on from my comments above, each person is an important cog in the team machine. If every person is educated to be a valuable member; trusted, respected, honest and with good social skills... then a country benefits from that cooperation, that initiative and that shared achievement.
Regardless of politics or social or economic  problems, sport is a way that any country can show its importance in the world. Even the smallest and poorest of nations can feel pride in participating in world competition.
China's leaders have clearly shown their desire to achieve a high status in team sports. Their initiatives start with soccer. There is now a drive to have soccer introduced into the curriculum of thousands of schools with trained coaches. A text book is to be issued! Though my views about this are contained in another blog I have written).
It will take a very long time for soccer to become a leading and successful sport in China. It needs massive investment, but this is easily arranged. The big difficulty lies in that culture of individual, and not shared, success. Training in soccer goes far beyond the sport. It begins in the early years of a child's life. Children and their parents need educating in the value of cooperation, honesty, sharing and trust. Attitudes are difficult to change.
What about other team sports?
I see students every day who are bored and disinterested in the fitness exercises in PE lessons. Sometimes the boys "play" at shooting a ball into a basketball hoop. Sometimes they can play on the ping pong tables. But their is little or no introduction to general sports and no coaching. I rarely see a proper game played, and I know of no inter-school competitions. Some girls are desperate to DO some sport, but they have no chance and resort to sitting around talking while they watch some boys bouncing a ball. An interest in sport is destroyed.
Then there is the culture of blame. Sport can result in injury. In China it is the teacher who is to blame regardless of the facts. It follows that there is an unwillingness to introduce any sport that may risk accident. Thereby sport is discouraged.
In conclusion, huge investment is needed in sports education in the early years. Develop an interest and skills in a variety of team sports at an early age with investment in facilities and training by qualified coaches in every school. There should be a school/parent contract regarding accidents and adequate school insurance to cover costs. Then, in fifteen years time China might be able to win world acclaim in team sports, including soccer.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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