The Shaolin monks are famous worldwide for their impressive kung fu styling and recognisable yellow robes, but it seems that David Beckham and Lionel Messi had better look out. After bringing you something reminiscent of a scene from Shaolin Soccer back in July last year it seems Shaolin monks are intent on taking over the (footballing) world.
The Shaolin monks of Henan province have set up a football academy, which is quickly gaining support from the entire footballing community. The monks have been invited by FIFA to take part in the opening ceremony of the Germany Women’s 2011 world cup and have met with many influential sporting figures such as Jacques Rogge and Juan Antonio Samaranch, heads of the International Olympic Committee. They have also played against some big named players from the international football circuit and have made headlines worldwide.
Founder of the School Yan Lu explains that “the academy was born out of his passion for the sport and that of the students and that then there came a need for proper coaching and the coach for the Cameroon team got involved.” (“培养兴趣”，待这一步完成之后，接下来就是“拔高”，“从中选出有足球天赋，对足球喜爱的学生，成立足球队。提供更好的条件和专门的教练”) He also , à la Shaolin Soccer believes that thousands of years of Shaolin history and the modern game of football are a perfect fit and the skills needed for both kong fu and football are very similar. There is apparently a lot of talent and potential in the team, whose ages range from 4 to 20 and the training they learn here could help with future careers involving all sorts of sport related teaching.
The reaction of people across China has been mixed, the vice president of Henan provinces football league has deemed the project useful and innovative although does have a few concerns. The primary one being that the team doesn’t have a pitch and is practising on a bricked surface, which could easily cause injuries.
Die hard football fans deem the project silly and perhaps just a publicity stunt. They don’t think there is any quick solution to Chinas football problem and think it needs to be handled like it is in Europe and Brazil; get children playing football as young as possible. However, given Chinas current success rate in the “beautiful game”, they really need all the help they can get. Perhaps they could learn something from Shaolin soccer.