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Shaolin students playing soccer at the Tagou Wushu School in Dengfeng
Shaolin students playing soccer at the Tagou Wushu School in Dengfeng

Combining kung fu with soccer? This was a fantasy depicted in Stephen Chow's 2001 martial arts comedy film Shaolin Soccer. But now, in Henan province, home of the Shaolin Temple famous for its superhuman martial-arts monks, we are set to see a real-life attempt to kick some life into Chinese soccer by applying the methods of kung fu, the China Times reports.

Though China is a major sports power, its national soccer team is seen at home as a national embarrassment. It ranks 84th in the world, and has been beaten by the likes of Uzbekistan, and romped recently by South Korea.

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But ever since Chinese President Xi Jinping took office two years ago, integrating soccer into the national curriculum has become both a way of promoting the sport in China and boosting his public image, said the South China Morning Post.

Zhang Wenshen, director of the Henan Province Sports Bureau, has apparently heeded Xi's call with a homegrown method that seems to take inspiration from the kung fu film, "We are undertaking a bold attempt in advancing soccer reform and in carrying forward Chinese traditional martial arts," Zhang told China Times.

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Last week, the "Henan Shaolin Teenagers Soccer Training Base" was officially opened. The beautiful game may never be the same again.

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Feminists have generated a set of tools to make science less biased and more robust. Why don’t more scientists use it?

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This focus on biological sex differences turned out to be woefully inadequate, as a group of Harvard-affiliated researchers pointed out earlier this year. By analyzing more than a year of sex-disaggregated COVID-19 data, they showed that the gender gap was more fully explained by social factors like mask-wearing and distancing behaviors (less common among men) and testing rates (higher among pregnant women and health workers, who were largely female).

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