Mul­ti­eth­nic soc­cer team rep­re­sents di­verse city of Tacheng

China Daily (Canada) - - XINJIANG - By XIN­HUA in Tacheng, Xin­jiang

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.

ZHANG XIAOLONG / XIN­HUA

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

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