Dalian (China), Sep 2 (IANS) In its bid to catch up with multiple Olympic hockey champions India and Pakistan, global superpower China has built 41 hockey training centres to raise the standard of the game in the country.
Despite the fact that the Chinese women's team won the silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Games, the men's team is struggling to catch up with the top international teams and are ranked 18th in the international rankings, reports Xinhua. The women's team is ranked seventh.
Lei Jun, president of the Chinese Hockey Association, admitted on the sidelines of the Chinese National Games' hockey tournament that China has yet to join the world's top teams.
"Hockey was introduced to China in the mid-1970s and the sport didn't make much progress until 2007 when the country decided to raise the game to a higher level," said Lei, also director of the Chinese Handball, Hockey, Baseball and Softball Administrative Centre.
Lei said China has created a 5,000-member pool of hockey talent -- among them 2,000 are the "first and second-string players".
The hockey boss added that the Chinese women's team is seeking an Olympic berth through the 2014 Asian Games.