Football coaching in Cheng Du
A European football teacher in Cheng Du, not knowing a word of Chinese? Not a problem at all, says Florian. He spent 3 months volunteering as a football coach in a school in central China. Here he talks about his time abroad and the experiences he made – a story of making friends, spicy food and (of course) football!
My experiences with the Chinese culture
I personally had no troubles with the Chinese culture. Especially because of the locals' open-mindedness I was able to become a part of the community really easily, I was welcomed warmly and felt very comfortable from the beginning. My colleagues invited me into their homes a lot and offered me extensive and tasty Chinese meals. Of course I had to get used to the different taste, but even that worked out better than expected. You really need to change your perception of food: there is rice every day, new tasty spices, unknown vegetables and in general more parts of animals are used in the kitchen. As an additional challenge, almost everything is eaten with chopsticks. I tried it in China for the first time, but because of the daily use it didn't take much time to learn.
I got in touch with the locals pretty soon. Not only colleagues from work, but also other players – it didn't matter where, but there were always people around to spend time with. After I had been working in the school for a few days, one of the other football teachers invited me to his house and I met his family. This is when I really experienced how open-minded and kind the people in Cheng Du are, and I got to try my first home-cooked Chinese meal! Occasionally we did have to face a language barrier, which was always easily solved by either a smartphone or one of the English teachers.
Free-time and weekend activities in Cheng Du
On weekends, the other teachers welcomed me to participate in their free-time activities and we often went on trips together. After playing badminton, they took me to some local public football fields, where various teams played matches against each other. I got to play in different teams myself, which was a really fun experience for me. Especially with one of the younger teachers I got along so well that we often did activities together and became close friends. Even now, 3 moths after leaving Cheng Du, we are still in touch. In the last week before I returned to Germany, a match was organised as a means to say goodbye. We had so much fun with the teams which I trained alongside the other football coaches, and we were able to familiarize them with a sport that had been completely unknown to most of the students before.
Conclusion: be opend-minded and don't expect too much!
What I want future volunteers to know is that they really need to be sure about what is expecting them: a completely different world with unfamiliar food, unusual customs and a culture which is different from the roots. However if you are open for change and willing to engage with your surroundings, not expecting too much but giving your everything to become a part – there is nothing stopping you from having an unforgettable time in an amazing country.