In Sichuan, teenage girl finds love for football

World Today

In the midst of World Cup fever, it is easy to forget those for whom football is more than just a game on television. A teenage girl in China’s Sichuan province is working tirelessly to achieve her dream of making it as a footballer on the world stage. CCTV’s Liu Yang reports.

In Sichuan, teenage girl finds love for football

In Sichuan, teenage girl finds love for football

With the world in the grip of football fever, it is easy to forget those for whom football is more than just a game on television.
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Getting ready for another day of training. This 13-year-old, who looks so shy in front of the camera, is anything but, when she hits the field. Her skill, her footwork, her technique, make her a joy to watch and comparable to any adult who plays the game.

“The first time the coach asked me what the shape of a football was, I said it wasn’t round. I said, it was like a ball with three corners,” said teenage footballer Pang Jia.

She said her love affair with football began when she was 9 years old. Her school coach, in the deep mountainous area of rural Sichuan saw her talent. And one year later, she was selected by this man. The coach of the provincial teenage football team, who realized she was a future football star in the making.

“Pang Jia works very hard and has a clear mind when she is on the field. She is an important midfielder in our team. She understands football because of her special talent,” said Sichuan HKJC Olympic Sports school coach Wang Chengjiang.

Pang Jia is also a very lucky girl. Just a year after being selected by the provincial teenage football team, she was chosen by the national junior team in the 14-year-old group. But she knows the road to her dreams and goals will take not just time, but endurance, persistence and courage.

“Sometimes I felt lonely, since there were no friends near me. Therefore, I sometimes called my parents to talk about how I felt. And then I would hide myself in bed and cry for a while. I’d feel better after that,” she said.

“Yes, I do. I have to work harder if I want to play in the World Cup. I want to be the pride of my parents and my younger brother. We have very few people playing football in Aba, my home town. I want to be an example for them. I hope more people will begin playing football,” she said.

Pang Jia’s parents have taken a 6 hour bus ride to see their daughter who they have not met for 6 months. This moment of happiness will however not last more than another day. These farmers have no money to stay in the city for too long. Like many parents, their children are their only hope.

“When I see her get better and better, I feel so happy for her. She once told me she wants to play for the national team. I hope she will reach her goal,” said Pang’s mother.

At this sports school, at least 20 other teenage girls like Pang Jia are all pursuing their dreams of sporting success. And each of them knows that the path to success is lined with hard work and dedication.