Shaolin monks are hoping to improve China’s poor football performance with a new training school which combines football with kung fu.

Shi Yanlu, head of the venture at the world famous Shaolin Temple, says he believes the disciplines of kung fu will benefit young footballers.

He has selected 40 young monks to train at the school under the supervision of martial arts experts and former international footballers.

Yanlu said: “Right now, China’s football performance is really disappointing. We hope by combining kung fu elements and spirit, Chinese football can perform better.”

As well as regular football training, the monks focus on aspects of the martial art, such as balance and leg strength, which will make them better footballers.

“They have superb physical qualities, and they are learning things very quickly. We will try to meld the kung fu into the football training, hopefully improving the level of Chinese football,” added Yanlu.

“The kids here all have a spirit of hard-work. We will invite some outstanding coaches to teach them. Hopefully we can have several international football stars of the future here.”

The Shaolin Monk Football Training Base is being backed by the China Football Association which has provided equipment, including 1,000 footballs.

It now plans to build more pitches for students to play on.