China bids for world glory in widely heralded new sport
Updated: 2015-10-20 18:15
By Qiu Quanlin in Shenzhen(chinadaily.com.cn)
A four-player team will represent China in next year's World Cup of Footballgolf in Argentina. Photo by Qiu Quanlin/chinadaily.com.cn
China has named a four-player team to compete in an international footballgolf tournament in Argentina early next year.
Ruan Chen, Pi Siwei, Ji Jie and Liu Mengyang were chosen after a nationwide championship for the sport, newly promoted in China last year, at Mission Hills, a resort mainly featuring golf in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.
Footballgolf, an addictively fun sport combining golf and soccer, is usually played on golf courses, requiring players to strike a soccer ball and send it into a hole using their feet.
The sport's popularity has expanded around the world since rules were standardized in 2009 in the Netherlands, according to the World Footballgolf Association.
"It will be a great honor for me to play at such an international competition as I have played soccer for many years," said Ruan, a retired professional player.
A growing number of retired and current soccer players have joined the sport since Mission Hills organized a nationwide tournament early this year, which has already attracted more than 100 participants, according to Tennial Chu, vice chairman of Mission Hills.
According to Chu, a public course has been opened since Oct 9 at Mission Hills, to better promote the sport
Ruan, together with 300 players from 30 countries and regions, will compete for the World Cup of Footballgolf in Argentina between January 6-10, according to Danniel Yamamoto, public affairs director of the Argentine Footballgolf Federation.
Former Argentine internationals Juan Veron and Diego Maradona, and Lionel Messi, one of the world's greatest current players, are expected to display their skills during the event, according to Yamamoto.
"We are planning to launch a professional footballgolf league as there are about 1,000 golf courses in Argentina and a growing number of soccer players have developed interests on the sport," said Yamamoto.
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