Being quite a keen footballer back at home, one of my first objectives once I’d found my feet out in Beijing was to find a team to join.
So, I fired up the computer and browsed for amateur Beijing teams, hoping that the fact that my football vocabulary in Mandarin barely stretched to 我很喜欢踢足球 (wo hen xihuan ti zuqiu) would not be a problem.
Lo and behold! I found out that Beijing has a wealth of football teams with players from every country you can think of. Any one amateur league will have teams that are made up mostly of Russian, English, French, Chinese or any other nationality of players. Most teams in fact have a great mix of players from different parts of the world. I decided to join the Beijing Barbarians, as I thought they looked like the most fun and had an interesting mix of players. Our first game was played against the interestingly named ‘Sexy FC’, another team that was very much international. It was played in the incredibly beautiful Si’de park (四得公园) in Chaoyang district. As it was a sunny Saturday afternoon, the park was full of both expat and Chinese families having picnics and taking walks.
The game itself was played in very competitive yet amicable spirits, and the shouts around the pitch were always a mixture of English and Mandarin. I actually felt that by the end of the 90 minutes (with us winning 1-0!) I had picked up a few new words and phrases in Chinese, which I am determined to put to use on the pitch next week.