China is set to introduce soccer textbooks in school curriculum as part of a push backed by its football-enthusiast President Xi Jinping to transform the nation into a powerhouse of the sport.
The country is poised to launch the first batch of soccer textbooks for more than 5,000 elementary and secondary schools across the nation, which have added at least one compulsory soccer class to students’ curriculum every week.
The Education Ministry is pushing to expand that number to 20,000 by 2017.
The seven volumes of textbooks compiled by the People’s Education Press, a major state-backed publishing house, will be completed by the end of this month, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
“The books will be promoted to schools across the nation in September for next semester’s studies,” a Press spokeswoman surnamed Yang was quoted as saying by the daily.
The books cover topics ranging from basic soccer rules, exercises designed to familiarise students with the sport, advanced soccer techniques and strategies as well as how to build teamwork and morale.
Four of the volumes will be for students (from grade three through to fourth-year high school), while the remaining three are teaching guides for faculty.
“The books will be used in the compulsory weekly soccer classes in the primary and secondary schools in Beijing,” the Press spokeswoman said.
The books also feature bar codes which readers can scan with their mobile phones in order to access online soccer-tutorial videos.
The move is part of the government’s effort to bolster the development of the sport after president Xi’s repeated calls to give soccer a boost.
Though China is already an Olympic powerhouse, winning countless medals at the Games, the world’s most populous nation of 1.3 billion still struggles in world men’s soccer rankings.
The national team’s FIFA ranking has swung between 70th to 100th in the past decade.
In 2002, the only time it joined the World Cup, China lost three matches in the group stages and returned home without scoring a goal.
In December last year, the government announced plans to have some 20,000 schools across the country equipped with new soccer fields by 2017.