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One-child China teaches teamwork with football

Friday, June 09, 2017 - 01:35

It may come second to soccer or baseball, but American football is taking off in China, as parents embrace more team sports and look to immerse their kids in U.S. culture Grace Lee reports.

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This is Lisa. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) EAGLES TEAM MEMBER LISA LI, SAYING: "I'm 9 years old and my favourite sport is American football." She might not seem like the archetypal American footballer, but Lisa is the star player of The Eagles - one of the 16 teams in China's first American football youth league. Most of the players here are signed up by their parents in hopes their children will learn more than just a new sport. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EAGLES AMERICAN FOOTBALL COACH, IVAN VITKOVSKYI, SAYING: "We help them to cooperate like a team, fight for each other and support each other because a lot of them they're just one child in a family and they don't know how to help others." Just like in American high schools, games for the league are held on Friday nights with uniformed referees, post-game interviews, and plenty of support. The big-game atmosphere comes with a hefty price tag, parents are spending a few thousand dollars a year for their kids to play American football. It may be only a minor sport in soccer-obsessed China, but it does bring an added value of its own, as many of the kids are looking to go abroad for school, and the experience helps them become more comfortable in foreign cultures. Parents also say it's a welcome break from the rigorous academic work and tutoring sessions that are common in China. And after one and a half million people watched the Superbowl across the country this year, these kids could have a future on a far bigger field.

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One-child China teaches teamwork with football

Friday, June 09, 2017 - 01:35