BEIJING -- Many people blame academic pressure and lack of school soccer for China's terrible soccer team, but that may be about to change thanks to a new evaluation system that will take into soccer skills.
China's education minister Yuan Guiren said on Wednesday that soccer will be factored in when forming a comprehensive quality assessment of students, adding that schools will keep a record on students' soccer skills.
Addressing a national conference on promoting soccer in schools, Yuan said the ministry will inspect schools' efforts on school soccer.
Soccer will also become a compulsory part of physical education classes to provide more chances for students to play soccer, said Yuan.
The ministry will also help set up more soccer academies. The goal is to have about 20,000 primary and middle schools that focus on the promotion of soccer by 2017, said the minister.
China's millions of soccer fans have become used to disappointing performances from the national soccer team. It has only ever qualified for one World Cup, in 2002.
President Xi Jinping, a soccer fan, has repeatedly encouraged China's footballers to make a step up.
In July, the education ministry laid out plans to establish soccer tournaments in primary, junior and high schools as well as colleges. Enrollment policies will be relaxed so it will be easier for schools and colleges to recruit talented footballers.
The ministry also plans to train as many as 6,000 soccer teachers in 2015.