Multiethnic soccer team represents diverse city of Tacheng
A multiethnic soccer team in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region are gradually becoming a calling card for the city where they have been based for past three years. Tacheng United soccer club have been ethnically diverse since their formation in 2013.
“We play in the 4-3-3 formation, and our starting 11 are from different ethnic groups — Han, Hui, Uygur, Kazak, Mongolian and Daur,” said captain Bao Yin, who’s Daur.
Taicheng is a county-level city about 12 kilometers east of the China-Kazakhstan border, which has a population of 160,000 from 25 different ethnic groups.
“There are many amateur teams in Tacheng, usually each one representing one ethnic group. We set up a multiethnic team which is able to represent all of Taicheng,” said Wei Quan, the head of Tacheng United.
“Tez!” and “Jarayde!”, which in the Kazakh language mean “move” and “nice shot”, are often heard on the pitch, but players use Mandarin to communicate after the match.
Tacheng United players come from all walks of life — they are taxi drivers, teachers, businessmen and civil servants — but the team train like professionals and are performing well in the local amateur league.
“We have three wins and three losses this season. It’s not bad. But the results are not that important, we want to make friends through sport. After the match, we often have dinner together and talk about the match and everything. It’s fun,” said Bayo.
“We are a multiethnic team, so the players have different traditional festivals. We usually share the festivals together, and the delicious cuisine as well.”
The team first found themselves in the media spotlight last July, when they played a charity match to raise funds for a child with leukemia in a nearby county.
The charity game was a success and since then the players have found that soccer can be both fun and helpful.
They have also visited local special schools and taught children with disabilities to play soccer.
“We communicate through social media and I told the kids, if you want to play, we are just a phone call away,” said Bao.
The team now hopes to represent the city, which has a 200-year history of foreign trade, on a larger stage.
“Tacheng United can make the city proud and we can become city heroes. That’s our goal,” said Erxeden, the team’s Uygur winger.
Left: A group photo for Tacheng United soccer club in Tacheng, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Right: Gao Xiaoyang, a female member of the Tacheng United soccer club, practices on the field. Wei Quan, Tacheng United coach