Across China: African youth chasing football dream

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-05 21:42:40|Editor: Chengcheng
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GUANGZHOU, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Okeke Onyedika Chukwu Joshua runs on to the pitch, quickly putting on a plain white jersey with the Chinese characters Dengfeng printed on the front.

Dengfeng is the name of a street in south China's Guangzhou city, where several thousand foreigners live. Joshua is the captain of its youth football team.

Together with his teammates from China as well as countries in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, the 17-year-old is looking to win his fourth champion title in the T League -- the city's teenage league.

When Joshua was three years old, he moved to Guangzhou with his parents and older brother. When he was growing up, a local sports teacher discovered his football talent and invited him to join the school team.

Later, Joshua was transfered to a middle school near his home, and traveled across the city twice a week to continue training at an amateur youth club.

He then joined a football team with players from different countries. Playing together, the teenagers also learn to respect diversity.

"Joshua is a reliable guy, and getting more and more mature. He cares about the overall interests of the team, fights for his teammates and encourages younger kids," said Wang Haige, founder of the team and a local social worker.

"I feel happy playing football, and I want my teammates to enjoy every game," Joshua said. "And I like Wang, he helps me a lot. He finds us coaches and sponsors."

Joshua said his parents wanted him to be well educated so that he would have more options in the future.

The teenage footballer has been admitted to a college in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, and starts in September. He plans to find another team or club there to continue his training, though he will return to Guangzhou during vacations and play with Dengfeng.

"There are two places I'll never forget -- my home country Nigeria, and Guangzhou in China, the place I grew up."