Global Times US Edition - - INDE -

Fi­nally, at 9, Mustafa, ac­com­pa­nied by his fa­ther, came to start train­ing.

His soc­cer and Pu­tonghua have im­proved – and so has his English.

“We Xin­jiang chil­dren have bet­ter pro­nun­ci­a­tion of English,” he says, with a wry smile at the Global Times English-lan­guage re­porter.

Mustafa has vis­ited South Korea for tour­na­ments and trav­elled with his team to other ci­ties in China.

He is a stu­dent of class 2, grade 4. His class has 27 stu­dents from ages 9, 10 and 11 teams, eight from Xin­jiang.

School­ing is free for all Luneng youth team play­ers.

Play­ers as young as Mustafa have about seven classes daily in­clud­ing Pu­tonghua, English and math. Af­ter class, they have a one and half-hour train­ing ses­sions.

Be­fore the new se­mes­ter, Mustafa wrote in a school es­say that he would work hard to be­come cap­tain of his team and that his fu­ture goal was to play for Luneng Tais­han in China’s Su­per League.

“My big­gest dream is to play in La Liga of Spain,” hesays. How about Real Madrid? “To play for any team in La Liga would be good enough.”

Mustafa has a role model: Subi, cap­tain of China’s na­tional Un­der-16 team who won the Golden Boy prize in the 2017 China Foot­baller of the Year awards.

Subi tells the Global Times that he could not speak a word of Pu­tonghua when he first came to Luneng aged 9, but he grad­u­ally grasped it and be­came a re­li­able leader of his team.

There are other, more com­plex is­sues.

Ih­san, the first-choice goal­keeper of Luneng’s age-10 team, en­coun­tered some dif­fi­cul­ties in ob­tain­ing a pass­port in time for travel to a Ja­panese tour­na­ment.

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