During the KELME 2018 AUSF Football Cup, player escorts holding hands with players while they walk in are in the spotlight. These children were selected from the football teams of primary schools in Jinjiang. Now let's turn our eyes to the school team coaches behind these pupil players who have always payed close attention to, supported and offered training for the teenager football teams in Jinjiang.
Gao Honghua is one of these coaches.
As the coach of the football team in Lingshui central primary school, every week, Gao takes the pupils to the newly-built five-a-side pitch for short training after school.
"This time, we brought the kids to the site of the KELME 2018 AUSF Football Cup as they were selected as player escorts, and at the same time they can watch the games, which is a meaningful experience for them," said Gao.
This time he, and Tang Yong who also loves playing football, led the school teams including boys' teams and girls' teams from Lingshui central primary school. The teams are constituted by more than 20 pupils.
"These children are very active and enjoy playing football and watching football games, and so do many of their parents." Two years ago, there were only about a dozen teams in primary schools in Jinjiang, Tang Yong said. "Last year, there were more than 20 teams, and the number is expected to increase."
"In recent years, the primary schools in Jinjiang made a lot of efforts to improve sports, before and after the city won the bid to host the KELME 2018 AUSF Football Cup and the 18th Gymnasiade," Gao said. "Education authorities in Jinjiang have expanded spending on sports in many primary schools. Many schools have renovated or built new five-a-side pitches. And the football league for pupils in primary schools in Jinjiang have witnessed more and more schools participate in and become more and more popular.
In mid-August, the Ministry of Education released the list of national pilot county (district) in promoting campus football for teenagers, and Jinjiang was the only county (district) in Fujian Province that was included in the list. In addition, four schools including Xiatang primary school, Anhai Middle School, Luoshan middle school and Neikeng Middle School in Neikeng Town were rated as the 2018 national schools featuring campus football for teenagers.
It is reported that in Jinjiang primary and middle schools, football has become a characteristic campus culture. So far, Jinjiang has 30 schools that were rated as the national schools featuring campus football, and the campus football culture have been spread across the entire city. Since the first Jinjiang middle school football match (11 players) in 2006, more than 10 sessions have been held. Since 2014, Jinjiang has launched a five-a-side football match for primary and middle school students. These two major football events have greatly promoted football to enter into the campuses in Jinjiang.
"That the 2018 AUSF Football Cup and other relevant events held in Jinjiang helped the city to get access to high-level football events and teenagers in the city to develop interests in football as well. These events make football game more and more popular among teenagers in Jinjiang," Gao said happily.