Expats come to China to teach local children how to master soccer skills

Updated 2017-05-19 10:30:27 Global Times
Llompart teaches a student how to get into the right position on the field.

Llompart teaches a student how to get into the right position on the field.

Young football players listen to Llompart's guidance during halftime.

Young football players listen to Llompart's guidance during halftime.

Even though a slight sandstorm was predicted in the afternoon, Daniel Llompart still hopped on a bike and made it to school on time. The scheduled physical education (PE) class was not cancelled, and following the class would be a soccer tournament among the neighboring middle schools.

Llompart, 30, is a Spanish soccer teacher who has been assigned by Beijing's education department to help Chinese PE teachers in soccer training at The Middle School Attached to Northern Jiaotong University.

His arrival in China coincides with the country's larger plan to introduce foreign soccer coaches and talents to local primary and middle schools, with an aim to help raise the soccer levels of China's youth.

The plan is to hire around 120 foreign soccer coaches to coach across the country in 2017 as a way to further deepen the international cooperation in soccer development, according to the country's Ministry of Education.

The PE class

Llompart, who was a professional player in Spain's soccer league, has had 12 years of experience in coaching youth soccer. RaySports, a Beijing-based company specialized in youth sports education and training, reached out to Llompart, and he came to Beijing to teach soccer six months ago. His brother, also a soccer coach, joined him on his journey.

Llompart had never imaged that one day he would be working in China teaching soccer. The first time he set foot on a local school's playground, he was surprised by how well established the soccer facilities in Beijing are.

"It impressed me that Beijing has some of the best soccer facilities. However, the children just don't want to play," he said.

"In Europe, you can see a lot of kids playing on the very small fields, and maybe 100 people playing with four or five footballs on the fields. But in Beijing, only a few children are playing soccer after school."

The major difference between Spain and Chinese youth soccer lies in the emphasis students have on sports. "In our country, kids have to study and practice sports at the same time. But in China, a lot of people just think of study and do not spare enough time for sports."

Llompart says that his career goal in China is to encourage more students to play soccer by showing them how to have fun on the fields.

Many schools in Beijing have adopted the module-based PE education system, in which girls and boys can choose different sports to learn and practice from their own preferences. The students in Llompart's class are all boys who selected soccer.

Playing little games was a large part of the PE classes he conducted at the school.

For example, one of Llompart's games is designed as "fish hunting" behaviors - students join hands to form "a net" in order to capture the fishes played by other students. The game helps children understand the importance of running to different points while keeping a shape on the field.

"I found that the soccer skills of students are on different levels. Some of them have played soccer for five years, some three years and some for one year," said Llompart. "So my training regime starts from the lower level to higher, practicing the basic skills first, and then passing the ball and changing to the next step."

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