China stung by its youth soccer fiasco, given huge height advantage over Russian preteens
October 27, 2011Jing Gao4 CommentsBeijing, Club World Cup, FIFA, gold medals, gymnastics, Hao Haidong, PE, physical education, Russia, Soccer, Sports, table tennis, the Asian Games, The Olympic games, the World Cup
A “friendship match” in Beijing between youth soccer teams from China and Russia on Monday, October 24, ended with China suffering a crushing 0 to 15 defeat to Russia. Most galling is the fact that, the visiting team, composed of Russian children born after 2000, did not even seem to get fair play in the 20-minute game against the Chinese kids, who are visibly taller and of sturdier build.
According to China News Net, young Chinese players from Ditan Elementary School’s soccer team started to pant profusely throughout the game, and did not show any team play or basic skill. The game was meant to last 40 minutes, and was shortened by half in consideration for the Chinese kids.
Some defended Chinese kids by saying that the young players on the Russian team from the Siberian Federal District were cherry-picked and therefore the cream of the crop in the region, whereas China did not send kids on the same par.
Unwilling to admit defeat and eat dirt on the country’s behalf, another youth soccer team took up the cudgel, by inviting the same Russian team to a match the next day. Having won a championship in Beijing, Yueye of Nanhudongyuan Elementary School is much more professional. Nevertheless, Chinese kids lost the Tuesday match 3 to 5.
Photos of the second match on October 25.
The two defeats have inspired a soul-searching over its physical education, or lack thereof.
Men’s soccer becomes a perennial disappointment and a bit of a sore spot for Chinese. The country is able to crank out dozens and even hundreds of gold medalists each year in the international sports arenas, and yet entered the World Cup final only once – without scoring a single goal. The Soviet-style of plucking talents at a young age and putting them through rigorous and draconian training under the state-sponsored system, which works wonders in gymnastics, diving and table tennis, comes short.
Chinese soccer fans, sports commentators as well as most China watchers who diagnose the cause of the moribund state of men’s soccer list a number of factors, including corruption in the Chinese soccer world, which results in match-fixing and illegal betting in the games, the problematic sports system that stands between individual players and the team spirit, and even the genetics- and diet-related disadvantage of the Chinese physique.
Now the friendship matches have shed new light on the conundrum. Hao Haidong, one of the most successful Chinese soccer players, wrote on his microblog in response to the news, “That’s not called sturdy. That’s called fat. Now our kids are either fat or wearing glasses.” He blamed test-oriented education that has taken up too much time of Chinese children that they cannot exercise. “How many kids play ball games after class? Maybe a few, but then their parents don’t let them and take away the balls. Kids just do their homework or play on computers after they get home…So many of them are pampered and babied. Parents only care about academic scores. With no independent personality, no healthy body and no filial piety, whatcan they do even if they get accepted into a great university?”
Netizens, on the other hand, have just found another fodder for ridiculing men’s soccer and lambasting the system.
云泽梦客：Judging by the photo, the Chinese kids are at least in the sixth grade and the foreign kids are at most third graders…
Yean徐：Gold medals, just like government buildings all over the country, are vanity projects at the cost of ordinary people’s money.
九夷部族：The education system that heats up competition to the boil has made each student so hard to catch a breath while being spoon-fed (with knowledge). How can they possibly have time or opportunity to take exercise…
神似神：Are we going to be called “Sick men of East Asia” again by others? (Jing: China was once labeled Sick Man of East Asia “东亚病夫” at the turn of the 20th Century by foreigners for being an enfeebled power, succumbing easily to strong arm and unable to stand up on its feet against Western powers.)
蒋一炜：Sick men have qualified successors to carry on…
启翔兄：It seems even the post-00 generation is not going to fulfill China’s soccer dream.
-如森-：(We’ve) lost. So be it. The adult team will act the same when playing against Russia. What’s the hype about? Chinese kids suck. Chinese people suck. China suck. Just face the reality.
123穆萨萨：Does it mean that I will not see any hope in my remaining years?
二逼瓦西里：It is, for a large part, caused by PE teachers. They are ill-cultivated, ill-educated, and some of them are even rogues.
海水一滴2：PE teachers have almost no responsibility for it. The major responsibility is on the Ministry of Education.
宋秋果Henry：In all, let’s just live in the dream of being a sports superpower woven by the state-sponsored system. Never wake up. The Olympic games will be held next year. Let’s keep cheering for the gold medal count.
韵文的围脖：I agree. Kids nowadays are in no spirit to endure hardship. They coast through without meeting any obstacle. I will let my baby have more taste of real life.
文晓康：Based on this result, at least we can infer that Chinese soccer will not accomplish anything in the next ten years. Things will remain pretty much the same.
大冬呱：How many of all elementary schools have a soccer pitch? Sigh…
飞-鸟-鱼：Why not China cancels soccer as a game all together from now on? Really not suited.
颜颜恶趣味：The highlight is the height difference.
雨中人321：(Jing: addressed to Hao Haidong) Everyone in the country is in the position to comment on it. Only you guysfrom the National Soccer Team are not in the position to comment on it. Thanks!
影像厦门：Tragic. Lost at the starting line for the race.
似水年华626：After seeing this, I don’t even have the courage to let my son keep playing soccer.
黄昌浩：This is true. Chinese education has made it seem the number of college students have multiplied. In fact, the number of byproducts of the waste of education resources – wastrels – have also multiplied.
武陵桃花：It can’t be helped. PE lessons at the schools are nothing but a show.