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Asian Cup win a big boost for Chinese women's football

By ZHANG ZHOUXIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2022-02-08 07:41

China's players celebrate with the trophy after beating South Korea 3-2 in the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 soccer final in Navi Mumbai, India, on Sunday.

In the first half of the China-Republic of Korea women's football match, ROK was leading 2:0. By the 90th minute, China had scored two goals and the teams were evenly poised at 2:2. However, no one believed the Chinese team could win, except the players themselves.

In the 93rd minute, the Chinese team scored its third goal, helping the Chinese women's football team lift the AFC Women's Asian Cup for the ninth time.

The team owes its success to its relentless fighting spirit. At one point in the semifinal match against Japan, the latter were leading 2:1. The equalizer came much later, in the 118th minute and the team managed to beat Japan in the point spheres.

It takes courage to turn despair into hope and the women's team has shown it possesses that courage. Seven of the team's nine Asian championship triumphs happened in the last century. China lifted one more championship in 2006, but thereafter it has been a complete lull, with China even failing to make it to the finals in what is often described as a "low period" for the team.

The low period has much to do with the absence of fresh talent. The warning signs were there from as early as 2010, given the abysmally low participation of women in the sport. Almost every college in China had a men's football team, but women's football teams were unheard of. In fact this seems to be a global phenomenon. Even in Brazil and many European countries, there are few takers for women's football among audiences. It was only in 2019 that the women's football world cup grabbed global attention with 1.12 billion viewers.

The Chinese Football Association has encouraged women's participation by requiring football clubs to have women's teams. In fact, every sport needs widespread participation. The ongoing Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is a good way of popularizing ice and snow sports. The women's football team's success will, hopefully, boost the public's enthusiasm for the sport, laying a more solid basis for its long-term prosperity.

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