Math teacher leading rural children to triumphs on football field

Xinhua, December 11, 2023
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In this photo taken with a mobile phone, Zhu Xiaolong gives a math class at the Weifeng Central School in Huyi District of Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Nov. 29, 2023.(Xinhua/Sun Zhenghao)

In 2013, when several clubs were launched in the school, the idea of initiating a football club crossed his mind. "However, I didn't dare to apply," Zhu said. "Being in a rural area, we lacked the necessary resources for playing football, and I doubted the school would approve."

However, he couldn't shake the thought, prompting him to approach the principal the following year. To his surprise, the principal approved his proposal, marking the inception of the first football club in Huyi District, attracting 13 students.

The school is located at the foot of Qinling Mountain and many rural children here had never touched a football before, said Wang Shangwei, principal of the school. So, Zhu had to start everything from scratch.

"I meticulously plan each day, making the most of every minute," Zhu said. "While striving to improve the quality of math teaching, I also organize training sessions for the football club at noon and during class breaks."

Many students didn't know anything about football, let alone the rules of the sport. They dashed freely with the ball, unaware of what constituted an offside or a foul. Zhu had to acquire professional knowledge by watching online videos before gradually imparting it to his students.

Slowly the club began to expand. Initially, Zhu was the sole player on the field during class breaks, but over time, more and more children joined him.

Seeing the growing passion for football among students, the school included football in its physical education curriculum. "We also enhanced the football coaching techniques, and now it has become one of the most popular sports among our students," Wang said.

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