TACHENG, Xinjiang, June 6 (Xinhua) -- A multi-ethnic soccer team in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are gradually becoming a name card for the city where they have been based for past three years.
Tacheng United soccer club in a Xinjiang county of Taicheng have been more ethnically diverse since their launch in 2013.
"We are playing in the formation of 4-3-3, and the starting 11 are from different ethnic groups - Han, Hui, Uygur, Kazak, Mongolian and Daur," said captain Bao Yin, who's Daur.
The county, some 12km east of China-Kazakhstan border, has a population of 160,000 who are of 25 different ethnic groups.
"There are many amateur teams in Tacheng, usually each one representing one ethnic group. We set up a multi-ethnic team which is able to represent all of Taicheng,"
said Wei Quan, the head of Tacheng United.
"Tez!" and "Jarayde!" (in the Kazakh language meaning "move" and "nice shot") are often heard on pitches, but players will use mandarin to communicate after the matches.
Tacheng United players are from all walks of life - taxi drivers, teachers, businessmen and civil servants, but the team train like professionals and now sit on the top half in the standings of a local amateur league.
"We have now collected three wins and three losses. It's not bad. But the results are not that important, we want to make more friends through sport," said Bao Yin. "After the match, we often have dinner together and talk about the match and everything. It's fun.
"We are a multi-ethnic team, so the players have different traditional festivals. We usually share the festivals together, and the delicious cuisine as well," added Bao.
The team has become a household name since last July when they played a charity match to collect donations for a child suffering leukaemia in a nearby county.
The charity game was a success and since then the players found that soccer can be not only fun but also helpful.
Tacheng United also went to local special schools and taught children with disabilities to play soccer.
"We communicate through social media and I told the kids, if you want to play, we are just a phone call away," said Bao.
For a city of 25 ethnic groups and with 200 years' history of foreign trade, the soccer team can do more beyond the sport.
"Tacheng United can make the city proud and we can become city heroes. That's our goal," said Erxeden, the team's Uygur winger.