"Go to Beijing to play football." Xu Jiajia fulfilled a dream of her own.
On July 8, Beijing Workers Stadium, like many famous players who play football here, photos of Xu Jiajia and a group of small teammates were hung in the players’ locker room. On this day, the U13 youth football team in Southwest Guizhou Province and the U12 echelon in Beijing Guoan mixed the competition.
Four years ago, with the help of poverty alleviation cadres, Xu Jiajia entered Luguan Primary School in Xingren City with more than 1,200 students from a rural school in Southwest Guizhou Province. There, she met a teaching policeman from Beijing, was selected for the football team, played well, and was promoted to a key middle school in Southwest Guizhou under the leadership of a "police coach". Last week, she flew to Beijing for the first time and kicked the football into the Beijing Workers Stadium.
On July 8th, the youth football team in Southwest Guizhou took a group photo with the players from beijing guoan football club. Beijing News reporter Wang Fei photo
This is a story about a girl’s dream in an ordinary mountain village, but behind it is a story about a group of people helping another group to ignite hope.
In March 2021 and September 2022, the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau sent two groups of 40 policemen with professional expertise to Xingren City and Pu ‘an County in Southwest Guizhou Province to teach football and English for three years. Among them, two groups of 24 football teaching policemen (four remained) continued to popularize campus football, and a total of 22 campus football teams were formed, which led the campus football teams to achieve excellent results in competitions held in the country, Guizhou Province and their counties and cities.
Driven by the planning of the teaching team, the government of Southwest Guizhou established a youth football training base in Xingyi, the capital, and established a "full chain" promotion channel of "primary school-junior high school-high school-university-employment" for outstanding football talents in Southwest Guizhou.
Thirteen-year-old Xu Jiajia has a bigger dream, "Go out of the mountains and go to a better place to study." The teaching police planted a seed in the hearts of children.
On July 5, in the friendly match between the youth football team in Southwest Guizhou Province and the Beijing youth team, Xu Jiajia and his teammates embraced and cheered after the goal. Beijing News reporter Wang Ying photo
"I’m going to play football in Beijing."
In June in Guizhou, honey plums are in full season, and the branches and leaves of plum trees are pressed by fruits. When the wind blows, they sway gently with the rustling sound.
"I’m going to play football in Beijing." Children’s cheers came from the distance. Xu Jiajia, with neat short hair and a tanned face, ran home, followed by two "police coaches" from Beijing.
The yard was lively in an instant. Mother Lin Yi-fen rubbed her hands nervously, and her feet were busy, bringing washed plums for a while, touching eggs in the chicken coop, picking bacon from the beams, and then diving into the kitchen to get busy; Father Xu Shenggui told the two coaches that he had a strong accent and a fast speech, and repeatedly said, "Jia Jia has bothered you."
The 13-year-old Xu Jiajia is the only child in the village who went to Xingyi, the capital of Southwest Guizhou Province, to attend a public junior high school. She got good grades and was selected for the U13 women’s football team in Southwest Guizhou Province, and will soon go to Beijing to participate in the youth football summer camp. More than two years ago, she often skipped classes, was the "big sister" among children of the same age, and was also a "problem student" that made teachers have a headache.
In those days when she felt ashamed and regretted in retrospect, Jia Jia met Song Xiaochuan, a policeman who came to teach. He is like a light, shining into Jiajia’s life.
In 2021, the children who have just been elected to the football team are training. The former one in the picture is Xu Jiajia. Photo courtesy of respondents
On March 18th, 2021, the first batch of 18 teaching policemen from Beijing Public Security Bureau went to 6 schools (3 primary schools and 3 junior and senior high schools) in Xingren City and Pu ‘an County, Southwest Guizhou Province, and started the fixed-point assistance and teaching work. Song Xiaochuan and his partner set up a football team in Luguan Primary School in Xingren City.
Song Xiaochuan found that Jia Jia is a good prospect. In the fifth grade, she runs fast, has good physical fitness, is smart and has a strong understanding. She was not only selected for the team, but also selected as the captain.
After more than a year, these children, who didn’t even know what football was at first, sweated day after day on the training ground and learned to pass, dribble and shoot a little bit … They represented Luguan Primary School in Xingren Campus Football League and won many championships.
Xu Jiajia was selected for the training team in Southwest Guizhou, together with 15 male players and 11 female players brought by the teaching police. They can go to Xingyi, the capital of Southwest Guizhou, to attend junior high school.
The opportunity is just around the corner, but Jia Jia’s father is in trouble. When he received a phone call from his daughter, Xu Shenggui was blinded. He was working in a rubber factory in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, and he needed to do a good job.
The Xu family had five children, and Jia Jia was the youngest. Including her, three children were studying at that time. Reading needs money. His wife Lin Yifen has liver disease, and seeing a doctor needs more money. A family of seven lives by farming, raising pigs and Xu Shenggui doing odd jobs. And to go to Xingyi City to study, you have to spend an extra sum of money every month.
On July 1, Xu Jiajia’s mother Lin Yifen (first from the right) talked about Jiajia’s going to Beijing, smiling. Beijing News reporter He Junyi photo
Without hesitation for too long, Xu Shenggui quickly called Jia Jia back. "Go, you have to endure it at home no matter how difficult it is." In the depths of this mountain, reading is a top priority for ordinary farmers. Xu Shenggui has always regretted that she couldn’t go to junior high school because she couldn’t afford the tuition in 90 yuan, and felt even more sorry for her eldest daughter who was admitted to the university but voluntarily gave up choosing to work.
Xu Jiajia is very lucky. She met many "distinguished people" on her way to school. In the third grade, the resident poverty alleviation cadre and Xu Shenggui proposed to send Jiajia and her brother to Xingren City to study, and helped them contact the school. The two brothers and sisters just entered the city, and Jia Jia also had the opportunity to become a student of Song Xiaochuan.
"Go to a better place to study." It is the hope that the children of this family will walk out of the mountains. Jia Jia has gone further and further, and can go to Beijing to play football. Her parents are not at ease and keep telling her, "Listen to the coach and don’t get hurt during the game."
"Show them the outside world"
After teaching for more than two years, the "police coaches" from Beijing have established a football team from scratch in their respective schools, and they have also gained good results.
The police promoted the establishment of a football association in Pu ‘an County, achieving the goal of having a football association in the whole state of southwest Guizhou. Xingren Phoenix Middle School established the first high school women’s state-level team in Southwest Guizhou. At the 11th Sports Meeting of Guizhou Province held in August, 2022, it won the sixth place in women’s group A, which is the best result in Southwest Guizhou since the resumption of the provincial sports meeting in Guizhou Province. In the 2022 Youth Football Invitational Tournament in Central and Western China, two U12 football teams led by teaching police won all four games, and stood out among 20 teams from 9 provinces and won the first prize …
Walter WANG and Zhang Jinan led the women’s football team of Phoenix Middle School to participate in the competition on behalf of Southwest Guizhou. Photo courtesy of respondents
At the beginning, it was difficult to find a few children who had been exposed to football in the school. The brand-new playground, the newly-sodded standard football field and the shiny metal goal were just places to run and climbing tools in the eyes of children.
In order to set up the first high school women’s state-level team in Southwest Guizhou, Walter WANG, a policeman who teaches teaching, and his colleagues drove from place to place to find someone, and accumulated more than 5,000 kilometers of mountain roads. Finally, 28 junior high school graduates were selected in Xingyi, Xingren, Anlong, Zhenfeng, Wangmo and other counties (cities) and arranged for them to go to Phoenix Middle School for study and training.
Most of these children’s academic performance is not excellent, their family conditions are also very difficult, there are many brothers and sisters, their parents work outside the home all the year round, and even some children have taken on the burden of raising their brothers and sisters. Bellome is one of them. After being elected, her family didn’t allow her to play football.
"What’s the use of playing football?" Teaching police have been questioned more or less like this. They patiently explained, "There are many different paths in life, and football may open a window for children." When they have time, they will also visit their homes to persuade parents who are worried. With the joint efforts of the coach, the Wangmo county government and the staff of the Education Bureau, Bellome finally appeared in the training ground.
Walter WANG on the training ground is strict and unsmiling. Beijing News reporter He Junyi photo
Being a teacher is a big challenge for the police. Cai Shuo, a policeman who teaches at Longxi Shiyan School in Pu ‘an County, has a "headache" student named Chen Jinfang. The little girl is a versatile player with good physical fitness and strong explosive power, but she is too introverted and shy.
For a long time, Jin Fang never looked up, didn’t talk and didn’t respond to the coach during training. Cai Shuo was anxious to ask a few words, and she cried. Cai Shuo, who was less than 30 years old, was helpless in the face of such a small child.
When he first arrived at Longxi Shiyan School in Pu ‘an County in 2021, Cai Shuo was guiding the children to train. Photo courtesy of respondents
A year and a half later, Cai Shuo learned about her psychological state at that time in Chen Jinfang’s letter to him. "I don’t know anything about football, I don’t know how to play, how to stop the ball, and how to defend, just like a baby facing a fresh world …"
In this brand-new football world, coaches teach children the rules and skills of football hand in hand and take them into a broader world.
Walter WANG and his colleagues tried their best to "beg for alms", helping the children with clothes, football, backpacks and other subsidies, adding meals to them by stewing beef and chicken legs on weekends, and also raising various expenses such as transportation, accommodation and so on when going out for competitions. "Take them to see the outside world."
"I can do it!"
Football training is a hard job, and the ultimate pull of body and perseverance can be exchanged for progress.
Every training, Xu Jiajia tried her best to run on the court. "She dares to fight and rob," Song Xiaochuan said, which is Jia Jia’s advantage.
Xu Jiajia (right) and her teammates strengthened their training in order to welcome the friendly match of Beijing Summer Camp on July 4th. Beijing News reporter He Junyi photo
She still has an indomitable spirit. When she first entered junior high school, Jia Jia underwent two operations on gastroenteritis and appendicitis, and her training and study fell behind a lot. The former captain of Luguan Primary School was no longer conspicuous in the "master as a cloud" state team. Shi Miao, who is the physical fitness coach and life coach of this team, can see that Jia Jia is a little frustrated, but she is still trying to catch up.
On June 29th, in a training on the eve of going to Beijing for a youth football summer camp, Jia Jia started a low-grade fever, and her face was red and sweaty, but she still didn’t want to take time off. "I can’t delay any longer." After biting her teeth for two hours, she was still exhausted and almost fainted in the turn-back running event at the end of the training. When Miao forced her to have a rest, she sat on the sidelines and drank water to cool down. Jia Jia gasped and watched her teammates training, and her brow twisted tightly.
Xu Jiajia once said that since joining the football team, life has become more specific. "Fight hard and win."
Every time after training, Walter WANG is often hoarse and exhausted. Beijing News reporter He Junyi photo
But "winning" is by no means the only thing that the coach wants to pass on to the children. In addition, there are self-confidence, persistence and faith.
No team is sure to win or lose, especially for the newly formed team, losing is inevitable. Falling down and conceding goals again and again are all regarded by Bellome as a ditch on the road to success. If you get up and cross over, you will always make progress.
In the 2021 Guizhou Football Association Cup Youth Football League, the Phoenix Middle School Women’s Football Team won the eighth place, and seven players won the national second-class athletes’ places, including Bellome, which is a great help for her to get into a sports professional college in the future.
After Chen Jinfang was selected as the goalkeeper of the state team in Southwest Guizhou, it was like a different person. Cai Shuo was sure at that time that Jin Fang’s past performances came from his lack of self-confidence. "Until she participated in the selection in the state, she found that she was still the best, and she really never cried again. In the past, I made a detour, but now I dare to’ provoke’ me.’ Coach, you can’t run, so you’re not as fast as me.’ "
In the summer of 2022, Chen Jinfang (3 from the right in the back row) was selected to the Southwest Guizhou Women’s U12 Training Team, and the team members took a group photo with coach Tang Yongxin. Photo courtesy of respondents
The little girl crying on the football field is gone. Chen Jinfang is very hard-working in training, which she attributes to her childhood exercise. She has three sisters and a younger brother, who is born dumb. His parents take him everywhere for medical consultation. Young Chen Jinfang has to walk alone for more than an hour to go to school every day, from dawn to dawn. Since the third grade, she has to wash and cook, feed pigs and chickens when she comes home, until now.
In the past, Xu Jiajia would cry when she cut off her shoulder-length hair. Now, in order to facilitate running, she severely cut her ear’s short hair again, exposing her ears and forehead.
"I can bounce more than 500 balls in a row." "I got the seventh place in my class in this exam." Xu Jiajia constantly reported good news to Song Xiaochuan. "When she first started training, she couldn’t jump a ball. She had to practice for three or five consecutive times for a long time." Song Xiaochuan didn’t ask Jia Jia how she worked hard to reach this level, and Jia Jia wouldn’t pull him to complain and be tired.
"Look, I can do it!" The children proved themselves with solid achievements.
The baton of dreams
In July 2022, 14 of the first batch of 18 policemen returned to Beijing after teaching. Song Xiaochuan left, too. Before he left, he handed Xu Jiajia over to the remaining Walter WANG, Wang Haonan and the second batch of Shi Miao and Tong Jixiang who came to teach.
The coach was catching the bat, but the training never stopped. Walter WANG on the football field is a "tough character". He is uncompromising. He starts training at six o’clock in the morning, but the thunder can’t move. It rains in winter and turns into ice, and it is humid and sultry in summer. But he insists on "being late will be punished", and girls will be more demanding when they complain that they are tired. It seems that he will never be satisfied with their performance.
At 6 o’clock every morning, it is still dawn, and the girls have appeared on the playground of Xingyi No.5 Middle School. Beijing News reporter He Junyi photo
In Chen Jinfang’s eyes, Cai Shuo, her first coach, belongs to the type of "keeping things quiet", Walter WANG, the coach of "King", is like a strict "old father", and Wang Haonan, the coach of "Xiao Wang", can understand her without saying much, and always speaks a word in her heart at critical times … She sets the funny photos of the coaches as her own mobile phone screensaver.
Many of the concerns of "old fathers" are in places where children can’t see them. In private, Walter WANG talked about the difficulty of children when everyone met. "I learned to wash and cook when I was very young. I didn’t have parents to take care of me. My family’s conditions were not good, and my nutrition couldn’t keep up. Look at this calf muscle. Going out to compete is a lot worse than others."
After leaving southwest Guizhou, Song Xiaochuan was entrusted by his friend to deposit 300 yuan money in Walter WANG every month as a living allowance for Jia Jia. He repeatedly told Jia Jia, "Just rest assured, study hard, and don’t fall behind in football and culture classes."
Jia Jia couldn’t bear to part with him. She watched the video produced by Song Xiaochuan when he left after teaching. Every frame in it was a memory of training and competition together in the past. She buried herself in tears and made an agreement with her coach: "I’m going to Beijing to go to college, and we’ll see you there."
I didn’t expect to meet you so soon. On July 6th, just after the friendly match with the Beijing team, Xu Jiajia saw the coaches who were hiding off the court and wanted to surprise them. She rushed to Song Xiaochuan and asked him repeatedly, "Did you see that we won the game?"
July 6, Beijing,Song Xiaochuan (left), Tang Yongxin (middle) and Zhang Jinan watched the children nervously outside the stadium. Beijing News reporter Zhang Jingyu photo
Song Xiaochuan doesn’t talk much on weekdays, unlike children who express their emotions so enthusiastically, but he will still "break the defense" for such a moment. He looked at the child in front of him, who hadn’t been eager to "take credit" for him for a year, and saw that she had grown taller and made progress, which was very comforting.
On the title page of the English book for Xu Jiajia, Song Xiaochuan wrote the following sentence: "I hope you will stick to your dream and make efforts to realize our agreement. See you in Beijing in the future! "
He knows that the seeds of hope have been sown, and these seedlings are stubbornly absorbing nutrition and striving for progress.
From March 2021 to now, with the relay help of two groups of teaching policemen from Beijing Public Security Bureau, and with the strong support of physical education and public security departments in Guizhou Province and Southwest Guizhou, two players have been rated as national first-class athletes, 38 players have been rated as national second-class athletes, 6 players have been selected into Guizhou Youth Training Team and studied in Guiyang Experimental School, and 45 players have been selected into Southwest Guizhou Youth Training Team and studied in Xingyi No.5 Middle School.
Children’s dreams have taken on a more concrete shape. Cai Shuo’s students said to him, "Coach, my life has never been so wonderful before you came. I will go to college like you, be a policeman and teach football."
7月10日，夏令营临近结束，孩子们在天安门广场观看了升旗仪式。仪式结束后，一个女孩张开双臂迎接朝阳。新京报记者 王嘉宁 摄
新京报记者 张静姝 编辑 刘倩 校对 张彦君