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  • Chris McMillan

Soccer inspiring hearing-impaired to succeed

China Daily

8th June 2023

Soccer inspiring hearing-impaired to succeed

Players learning cooperation and lessons for life on field

When the soccer field lights up at night, many onlookers come to cheer for the team in Zhanjiang, a coastal city in western Guangdong province.

Zheng Guodong, head coach of the team, usually stands at the center of the stadium and uses sign language to guide his players as they train and practice tactics.

As hearing-impaired players, most aren't able to communicate traditionally, Zheng said.

"But they get information through sign language," he told China Daily.

The team trains at the stadium at least twice a week when it is preparing for competitions. It belongs to the Longren Soccer Club, which was established in 2015, and grew out of a campus soccer team at Zhanjiang Special Education School, which was started about 20 years ago.

The club now has about 80 players of both sexes aged between 15 and 35, who are hearing impaired. They are not professionals. Many team members have jobs, working at fast food restaurants or on factory assembly lines, while others attend school. But they all come together at night to train.

Longren is the first officially registered disabled soccer club in the country and has been dubbed the "Barcelona Club of Chinese deaf soccer". It has had some success. The women's team won third place at the 4th AP Deaf Futsal Championships in Iran between April 29 and May 10.

The campus team from which the club was born grew out of a soccer fever that spread throughout the school when the Chinese men's soccer team qualified for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

It was the first time China qualified to take part in the event, and many students followed the matches, and developed an interest in playing the sport as a result.

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