The grand finale of the 2015 China youth soccer championship is underway in Beijing and the winners will be decided on Friday.
More than 600 players and coaches from 32 teams that won in six regions across China are now battling for the championship. This year’s games include girl’s teams from elementary schools for the first time.
The Ministry of Education has taken the lead in organizing the games based on a national strategy for school soccer. Although soccer hasn’t been a forte for China, there has been a nationwide campaign to boost the sport, which is becoming increasingly popular among teenagers.
China has launched a reform plan intended to enhance players’ skills and the national team’s performance. The plan also aims to expose about 2.2 million children in 5,000 primary and secondary schools to three hours of soccer a week.
The number of schools playing soccer is set to rise to 20,000 by 2020 and to 50,000 by 2025. The plan will also let the China Football Association decide its own staffing and financing, instead of being run by the country’s sporting administration body.
More than 2,000 officials, 3,000 headmasters and 5,400 physical education teachers in China’s primary and secondary schools will help the children learn the game. And 1,000 retired professional players, coaches and judges also will be involved with a national soccer training plan for teenagers.