Left-behind children offered inspiration through soccer

By Liu Jianing
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, May 25, 2021
Adjust font size:

The students and teachers of Sahenan Primary School in Xinglong county, Hebei province, remember windy days on the playground, when the air would get dirty and rains would turn everything into muddy ponds.

That is now long in the past. These days, students are excited every time they step onto the fresh grass and new soccer field, framed by bright white lines and fenced into smaller areas to allow as many children to practice as possible. 

Xinglong county used to be stricken by poverty, and it is rather remote from big cities and far removed from the world outside. Yet a connection almost universal between people vividly exists at the school — almost everyone loves soccer and plays the sport. The soccer fields naturally became a precious gift.

According to Wei Fengxin, headmaster of the school, the students have to thank Zheng Dongxing. The sport agent turned charity worker had been to the school 10 times in five years to promote youth soccer and offer help to children in need. 

Zheng said this is one of 1,750 schools he and his three-person team had been visiting, and he said his mission is to use soccer to help and inspire children who are left at home by parents working in the cities all year round. 

Zheng Dongxing (left) plays soccer with the students of Sahenan Primary School in Xinglong county, northern China's Hebei province on March 31, 2021. [Photo provided by Zheng Dongxing]

These children of China's millions of migrant workers are known as left-behind children. According to data released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs this year, 6.44 million children did not live with their parents who were away from their rural homes for work by the end of 2020.

Many of these children are poor, Zheng said, and are therefore likely to be burdened by myriad difficulties in life. Through soccer education, Zheng wants to give them his care and love, cultivate positive attitudes toward life, and help them to develop healthy personalities.

A white paper about the mental health of left-behind children released in January by charity organization On the Road to School compared them with those who live with their parents. It states that left-behind children tend to have a lower level of happiness, lower self-esteem, and fewer friends. It notes that the more friends a child has, the less likely he or she is to avoid social activities. 

Another research paper written by Yang Xuehui from the Capital University of Physical Education and Sports studying the relationship between physical education and left-behind children's personality finds that, if those children participate more in physical activities, they would be more outgoing, have more stable emotional status, more sympathy, and increased ability to interact with the outside world. 

That is why soccer education has been a good choice for those children who don't live with their parent or parents. "We have created the atmosphere that every day, everyone can play soccer," said Wei, the school's headmaster. Even during the epidemic, Sahenan Primary School allowed half an hour of soccer time in both the morning and the afternoon for students to exercise. 

"I feel healthier and stronger, and seldom get sick," said fifth-grader Dong Jiaqi. She wrote a letter to Zheng to express her gratitude for his hard work and her determination to study and exercise hard, and that she hopes Zheng and his team would come to see her play. 

The children, who were previously shy and stressed, have become more outgoing and better at communication, Zheng said. Some even reminded him to bring them the goalkeeper's gloves that he promised. "Their lives and characters can indeed be changed by the soccer," he said.

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:    
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter