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China's young footballers chase their dream
(Tianshannet) Updated: 2016-October-19 16:38:46


A torrential downpour unloads on a Beijing soccer field on a summer day--a group of Uygur boys play on.

Their coach, Parhat Mamtemin, calls them to come in from the rain. "They take no notice," Parhat sighs.

The team from Moyu County, in Hotan Prefecture, south Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has just completed a national youth football tournament in Jinzhou, northeast China's Liaoning Province.

They swept the field with 11 wins and no losses, scoring a total of 92 goals. It was the team's best ever performance.

"I used to play forward in our team," says 12-year-old Azimat wistfully, "like Ronaldo."

But unlike his idol, he missed some scoring chances. Considering his calm personality, coach Parhat made him goalkeeper. In Jinzhou, he only conceded three goals and made a great contribution to the team's performance.

Azimat's parents were less supportive of the young talent when he joined the team. "Many parents in China still do not recognize the importance of children playing sports," Parhat says. "Sport, including football, is just recreation in their opinion."

Broadening horizons

At first, some parents used to interrupt training and force their children to leave.

But as they saw the team fly around the country to play, they gradually accepted their children's passion for the "beautiful game". "They realized that football can broaden their children's horizons," Parhat says.

Parhat is a teacher at the primary school in Kawak village, in Moyu County, teaching Chinese and math. He set up the school football team in 2006, training the young players after class. To date, 40 boys have played in the team, and in the past 10 years, more than 200 students have joined training sessions.

None have become professional footballers. "Our school is so remote that few football teams come to select potential young players," says Parhat.

The school occasionally misses out on match fixture information too.

"Our team represents the general condition of grassroots school football in Xinjiang," Parhat says. "But the children love playing."

The region also lacks flat pitches and a professional training system. Parhat's team is lucky to be funded by the local government, the education bureau and donations. In April, the team went to Spain to train for a month.

(SOURCES:Xinhua)Editor: Chengli
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