Tournament success keeps Uygur soccer boys dreaming

Updated: 2015-02-16 20:39

By Sun Xiaochen(

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Tournament success keeps Uygur soccer boys dreaming

Afeirtin, a primary school student from Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, scores a goal at final of the Who's the King National grassroots soccer. [For]

Uygur boys stole the limelight at a national grassroots soccer tournament, boosting their dreams of becoming professional players.

Afeirtin, a primary student from Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has played soccer for three years but had never seen a decent pitch due to the lack of facilities in the underprivileged region of Northwest China.

When the 11-year-old entered the final of Who's the King at Beijing's National Indoor Stadium on Saturday, the cutting-edge facilities, professional officials and cheering crowds were beyond his imagination.

"I never thought I would play on such good pitch as I had only played on sand and mud before, not to mention winning a national title," the forward said after his side beat a team from Guangzhou 8-2 to win the children's category of the nationally televised finals.

Afeirtin notched a hat-trick in the first half and finished leading scorer in his age group with 13 goals in nine games. His team stormed through the competition, scoring 91 goals in total.

What most excited the tall, thin boy was that victory earned his school, the Central Primary School in Xiamalebage county, Kashgar, a piece of the same artificial pitch that had been used for the final.

It came as an extra award from tournament organizers who had asked Afeirtin what his dream was after the Uygur side won its semifinal. He said he wished to have a decent surface at his school so that more children like him could play.

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