China’s World Cup Dreams
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China’s World Cup dreams: The school training 'left-behind children' to be football stars

China’s football-loving President Xi Jinping says he wants his country to qualify for, host and win the football World Cup by 2050. The men’s national team has recently been defeated 6-0 by Wales, so there’s some way to go yet. But they’re spending billions trying to boost football in the country. Chinese entrepreneurs are also spending vast sums investing in local and foreign clubs, partly to help create a passion for playing football and to bring the latest training techniques back home.

For the BBC World Service's Assignment programme, Celia Hatton visits a special primary school in Gansu, in China’s far west, which is setting out to turn those World Cup dreams into reality. Made up of “left-behind children,” whose parents have migrated to the cities for work, the school drills the children in football skills each day, to give them direction and purpose, but also in the hope that some of them will use football as route out of poverty and to garner Chinese success on the pitch.

Producers: John Murphy and Lily Lee

  • 03 Aug 2018