First British University Soccer Club Tour to the People's Republic of China
The Menís Association Football Club was invited by Fuzhou-Napier College to send a touring party to Fuzhou, China in late April 2002. The touring party consisted of 23 players - a mixture of undergraduates and postgraduates from all disciplines and two coaches, Martin Roderick (Centre for Research into Sport and Society) and Ted Nethercot (Sports and Recreation Service). Colin Hide, the Sports and Recreation Manager also accompanied the tour. The tour was the very first from any menís British University Soccer Club to China.
The team arrived in China on Monday, April 22, and was accommodated in the Lakeside hotel in Fuzhou. The following day the touring party was formally greeted by the President of Fuzhou University and gifts were exchanged.
Over the next few days members of the touring party spent a good deal of time with the students of Fuzhou-Napier college, both in lectures and on informal sightseeing trips around Fuzhou.
A highlight of the week was when each of the students being taken home by one of the Fuzhou University students to enjoy a family meal. For many this was the best night of the tour, with delicious food and good company.
The main business of the tour was to play soccer. The party trained at the University with the Fuzhou-Napier College squad in a session that was watched by around 5,000 people. The following day the team played Fuzhou Gonghe, the regional champions in the Fuzhou City stadium. Losing by the odd goal at half time, the team eventually ran out winners 3-1.
The important game was played on Saturday, April 27. This was against the Fuzhou University side and was again played at the city stadium but this time in front of 12,000 spectators! The game was televised across Fuijan province Ė an area seven times larger than the UK. After speeches from the VIP guests, the crowd enjoyed an entertaining match which the University of Leicester won 3-0.
The behaviour of the touring group was outstanding. The students spent a good deal of time talking with the Chinese students, absorbing their culture, visiting the college and gave of their time quite freely. On formal occasions and whilst travelling they looked very smart and were a great credit to the University.
Feedback from Fuzhou University and the College has been very positive. Both were widely promoted in the local press and the touring party featured in the local evening news every night that they were in Fuzhou.
The team returned safe and sound to England on Monday, April 29 and Tuesday, April 30.
In conclusion, it was a very successful tour and a 'once in a life time' experience. Fuzhou-Napier College are keen to repeat the tour next year either in China or in the UK.
Within the space of six days, the University's Soccer Club has played in front of 12,000 in China and the Rugby Club 4,000 in England!
Last updated: 17 May 2002 10:55
Created by: Rachel Tunstall
Created by: Barbara Whiteman
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