Kung fu football hits China

BEIJING - China has once again failed to qualify for the World Cup, but fortysomething businessman Kong Debao thinks he has a way to revitalise the "beautiful game" - he has created kung fu football.

BEIJING - China has once again failed to qualify for the World Cup, but fortysomething businessman Kong Debao thinks he has a way to revitalise the "beautiful game" - he has created kung fu football.

By infusing the sport with graceful martial arts moves, Kong believes he can help the national team improve their speed and agility.

"The standard of football in China is low. When we watch it, we worry," Kong, a native of northeast China, told AFP.

"I asked myself how I could find a way to remedy this sad state of affairs, and so I created kung fu football.

"I'm committed to it body and soul."

After two years of setbacks, Kong finally found a martial arts school in the suburbs of Beijing that agreed to start a kung fu football class this year.

In China, such schools are highly respected and offer students both traditional academic courses and martial arts training from a very early age.

The 30 young people training at the school say they are proud to be part of creating a new sport.

"I've always played football and I recently started to do kung fu. With this, the two are combined," says 17-year-old student Xu Jiawei.

"Kung fu is a national treasure in China, but football is not really our strong point."

During a recent training session, students performed all sorts of acrobatic moves with the ball. - Sapa-AFP

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