A football dream pursued at 4,500m above sea level

(People's Daily Online) 14:54, November 24, 2022

They may live at a place with an average altitude of 4,500 meters, an average temperature of minus 3.3 degrees Celsius, 120 winter days a year, and snow all the year round, but Duoguo and his friends are determined to pursue their dream of becoming professional footballers.

Duoguo, a boy who has a passion for football. (People's Daily Online/courtesy of the interviewee)

For these children in Qumalai county, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China's Qinghai Province, a soccer ball, a group of friends, and a green meadow are enough to ignite their passion for the game.

Duoguo, who is 12 years old, is a sixth-grade student in an elementary school in Qumalai county. Though usually shy, when he starts talking about football, words pour out of him and his swarthy cheeks glow with excitement.

At the end of July this year, Duoguo and his teammates played in the finals of a national football competition for elementary students in Suzhou, east China's Jinagsu Province.

The journey to Suzhou, a distance of more than 3,100 kilometers, marked a number of firsts for Duoguo and his teammates. It was the first time that they had left the plateau where they live, taken a train, flown on a plane, and competed with football teams from all over the country.

Duoguo and his teammates were both excited and nervous about these new experiences and the competition, which saw nearly 1,300 junior players in 64 football teams take part.

Members of a football team from Qumalai county sing the song “Fly” at the opening ceremony of the finals of a national football competition for elementary students held in Suzhou, east China's Jinagsu Province. (Photo/Trinlin Phuntsog)

The games didn't go well for them. The drastic temperature difference between their hometown and Suzhou, the skill gap between them and their well-trained peers from other parts of the country, and their inability to adapt to the outside world were just some of the problems that overwhelmed Duoguo and his teammates. They played six matches in the competition, and only won one. When the final whistle blew, Duoguo secretly shed tears.

But that result didn’t mean the boy would just give up on his dream. Instead, he saw the experience as a test and a motivation to make greater efforts to achieve his goals. After returning from Suzhou, he practiced his football skills whenever he had the chance.

"I have seen how well other players of my age can do and realized the gap between us, and now I better understand what I need to do," Duoguo said.

A member of a football team from Qumalai county (in blue jersey) plays in the finals of a national football competition for elementary students held in Suzhou, east China's Jinagsu Province. (Photo/Sun Hai)

Duoguo and his teammates are now as determined and passionate about achieving their footballing dreams as they have ever been. Up on the plateau, green meadows don't grow well, the thin air poses a daunting challenge for intense physical training, and the lack of sports resources makes it difficult for them to step onto bigger arenas. But these difficulties all seem insignificant compared to their passion for the game.

Members of a football team in Qumalai county train in the cold weather. (Photo/Sun Hai)

Winter on the plateau is always long and harsh, but these boys practising their football skills at the foot of snow-capped mountains don't feel the cold as they are so focused on their dream.

"My favorite football player is Kylian Mbappé. I will learn from him and stick to football!"

"My dream is to become a member of the Chinese national football team!"

"I want to play at the FIFA World Cup like Lionel Messi!"

"I will work hard in my training so that I can win glory for our country one day!"


They speak their ambitions out loud, and are fully committed to their footballing dream.   

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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