Soccer project puts left-behind kids in spotlight

By Zhu Lixin | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-27 07:22

A high school student from Shanghai is bringing happiness to deprived youngsters in rural areas, as Zhu Lixin reports from Qianshan, Anhui.

 

Primary school students from Qianshan county, Anhui province, compete in a soccer game on Oct 1. [Photo by ZHU LIXIN/CHINA DAILY]


Chu Wenhao and his teammates from a rural primary school couldn't stop themselves from shedding tears after they recently failed to win a two-day soccer tournament.

 

Though the 11-year-old's team, from Chashui Primary School in the mountainous county of Qianshan, Anhui province, secured third place in the tournament that ended on Oct 1, the children had expected a better result.

Nine primary schools in Qianshan have formed student soccer teams with the help of the Youth Spotlight, a campus community from the Shanghai American School. As the last school to join the program, Chashui Primary didn't even have a team until early September, when the semester started.

"One of the nine eligible schools didn't participate in the competition because, although the boys wanted to win, they didn't have confidence in their abilities," said Huang Yujia, a 17-year-old at Shanghai American School, who founded Youth Spotlight.

Most of the 225 members of school soccer teams in Qianshan are "left-behind children", whose parents have migrated to cities in search of work.

That means the children are left in the care of their grandparents and other relatives, according to Huang, who was in the county with more than 20 Youth Spotlight members to help organize the tournament.

The teams are primarily for left-behind children, but the organization is wary of labeling them as such for fear of discrimination, and anyway, all local students are welcome to join in, according to Huang.

Chu has been living with his grandparents for more than five years, since his parents left to run a snack stall in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province. His 18-year-old brother joined them two years ago.

Though he's open and active with his teammates, Chu is still reserved in the presence of teachers or strangers. However, in the past month, he has been experiencing happy times thanks to the cooperation between his school and Youth Spotlight, according to Chu Guoqiang, his 72-year-old grandfather.

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