Friendship spans longer than international football fields

INTERNATIONAL friendships have been forged on the soccer field following the participation of a Hobart youth team in an international friendly tournament in China.

South Hobart Football Club’s under 14 and under 15 players were invited to participate in the Fuzhou Sister City Youth Football Invitational 2019 in Hobart’s Friendship City Fuzhou.

They took on teams from within Fuzhou, as well as a visiting team from fellow Friendship City Nagasaki.

One of the coaches, Matthew Tadd, said the results from the games were not as important as what the players learnt from the experience, with many players travelling overseas for the first time.

“The coaching team was extremely impressed with the players’ ‘growth mindset’ in difficult conditions,” he said.

“The atmosphere within the teams was fantastic, and our hosts were extremely focused on making sure the event embraced the spirit of competition, sharing of cultures and friendship.

“They gained an understanding of life as a student and a teenager in China and Japan through interactions with local students and players from all the teams.”

Along with playing their games, the young members of the South Hobart Football Club had the opportunity to partake in many cultural experiences, such as visiting Buddhist temples and participating in a range of mid-Autumn festival activities.

“They made friendships that defied language barriers and the cultural experiences will last a lifetime,” South Hobart Football Club volunteer and chaperone Tania Chung said.

Alderman Damon Thomas, who attended the soccer tournament while in China to participate in an economic forum at Xi’an, another of Hobart’s Friendship Cities, said the event demonstrated one of the benefits of the Friendship Cities program.

“The opportunity for 13 young members of our community to be part of an international tournament that exists specifically to connect Friendship Cities is wonderful,” he said.

“Youth programs like this encourage participants to learn about other cultures, to share insight about their own home countries and – of course – to foster friendships that cross international boundaries.”

Caption: International friendships have been forged, with South Hobart Football Club under 14 and 15 players competing in a friendly soccer tournament in China.

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