xi's moments

Understanding China through soccer

By Orabi M | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-10-29 14:46

Orabi and his soccer team. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

One day the childhood will end, one day the hair will turn white and the body will become weaker. Glorious days of being young and strong will pass in no time. Eventually, you will not be able to seize every moment. A doctor will tell you that you will not be able to withstand the intensity of the adrenaline flow. Others will talk about the risks of high blood pressure and diabetes, and then everyone will agree on the need to follow soccer calmly and slowly, because the impact of soccer could affect one’s health. Yes, you grew up and everything in life changes, but your passion and love for soccer remains. Ultimately, the feeling of true love for soccer will return to remind you of your childhood and young body.

My name is Orabi, I’m an Egyptian and I have been studying in China since 2015. I’m studying electronics engineering in Beijing. To me, soccer is everything. It is not simply a sport that people love to practice or a hobby a person would like to pursue to pass the time. Soccer is my life. I literally cannot spend a day without it. Since my childhood I have watched the European leagues such as the English Premier League, which is considered the strongest league in the world. I also watch the Spanish league, which is the most exciting one, and I even watch the Italian league, which is the most roughest.

However, when I came to Beijing I faced a big problem which was the time difference between China and the European countries. Due to this issue most of the matches start at 1:00 am which is late considering my school schedule. Since it is so important to me, I did a lot to make it possible to watch all of the matches. Furthermore, I decided to relate my career to soccer and I have chosen to be a soccer coach.

Through dealing with the Chinese community, especially the younger generation, I started to see a clear picture of the obstacles China is facing to have a strong soccer team. Considering the future of Chinese soccer we need to recognize the differences from other teams and try to strengthen what we currently have. Through my experience I believe Chinese soccer requires a lot of attention to reach the top. Being an Egyptian helps me understand the differences between the two countries. For example, the Egyptian children play soccer everywhere; in streets, in houses, even on rooftops. Almost every child tends to love certain clubs and coaches. On the other hand, children in China consider soccer to be something parents' force them to do for the sake of exercise.

Second, the parents' fear for the health and safety of their child. They tend to have a lot of restrictions that prevent the child from participating in any soccer activities that could be helpful for improvements. Therefore, there are few children that have passion for soccer.

Third, the closeness of the Chinese society to the western world. Considering the time difference, few would watch the soccer matches if they didn’t have a persistent love of the game. This could lead to a lack of knowledge which is necessary for pursuing a soccer path.

Finally, the children have more than one sport. For example, they play soccer, basketball, and many others which makes them unable to focus on one sport. As it has been said “good in all, master in none”.

Recently, China started to care about soccer, so a lot of academies have been established with the recruitment of foreign coaches. Such new movements have their pros and cons. Therefore, transferring the western soccer thoughts become easy. China works hard for a professional experience so the Chinese children will easily adapt with any European style or any other form in the world. On the other hand, soccer has become a lucrative trade for some people. Academies are taking advantage of the Chinese people's love for soccer to get money whereby, some clubs tend to recruit foreign trainers just for the sake of winning the attention of parents.

Anyway at the end it was a great experience for me. I learned a lot about the Chinese people and how they think and how they deal with soccer. Most importantly, it helped me to understand the people, know their culture, what makes them happy and what makes them sad which led me to improve in my Chinese language. All this is because of interacting with the Chinese people and now it is possible to say that we can watch real soccer on Chinese territory filled with pleasure and a strong spirit as we see in many countries throughout the world.

The author is a soccer coach from Egypt currently working in Beijing.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.

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