Destiny breaks through on the green field

The "Shimmer Girl" from Daliang Mountain passed on a foot of hope to her hometown

It is about 500 kilometers from Butuo County, Daliang Mountain, Sichuan Province to Chengdu, one mountain after another, and the winding mountain road is hidden in the depths of the clouds.

A group of 16-year-old Yi girls travel back and forth on this road twice a year. In their hometowns, they chop wood, herd sheep, and take care of their younger siblings, while in Chengdu, they brave the wind on the green fields, and there are many successes.

Since 2017, the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Zhi Gong Party, the Chengdu Municipal Committee of the Zhi Gong Party, the United Front Work Department of the Jinniu District Committee and the Education Bureau of Jinniu District have helped the education work of Butuo County, Liangshan Prefecture, and gradually formed the "Shimmer Action" women's football brand. Since 2019, through the "Shimmer Action" public welfare project, 40 Liangshan girls have come to Chengdu to go to school and play football. A new life unfolds, and for the first time, they know that life can be so far and wide: working hard for university, doing the job they love, seeing the scenery of the world...

In the past four years, they have completed their studies in the classroom in Chengdu, struggled to break through on the green field, and performed the songs of youth destined to be different in their lives. Since the beginning of this year, they have successively won the U-15 women's championship of the 2023rd "Gongga Cup" Youth Campus Football League in Sichuan Province, the 18nd China Youth League (Sichuan Division) and the <> Sichuan Youth Football League Women's U-<> Championship of the "Bashu Xiongqi Cup".

Fu Xi, the person in charge of the "Shimmer Action", said that the "Shimmer Action" has cultivated five national first-class athletes and five national second-class athletes. When selecting seedlings in Liangshan, parents often come up and ask if they can choose their own dolls. Fu Xi said that this is because the first batch of women's football players have played results, which has formed a wide range of driving force...

"Tiger Coach"

"In any case, I will definitely bring it to the court"

Every evening, fierce confrontations are staged on the green field of Chengdu No. 19 Middle School. The team composed of a group of Yi girls is easy to distinguish, the <> team members have long limbs, red and brown complexions, and they have a strong spirit to fight.

As soon as the ball entered the penalty area, the goalkeeper flew forward. A Yi girl hooked sideways with her foot, the ball went in, and the person immediately fell to the ground. During the roundabout chase, their jerseys were soaked with sweat and their bangs stuck to their foreheads.

"I am very willing to endure hardships!" this is the evaluation that Sun Jianwei, the coach of the 18th Middle School, gave to the girls. No matter the scorching sun or the bitter cold, they continue to train as usual. But Sun Jianwei doesn't often show admiration in front of them, and most of the time he remains stern. During training, Sun Jianwei was fierce and would shout loudly. He reprimanded a player who was always not in place in training, "This is a slash ball, your position is not good, how many times have you said it and you still don't understand?!" The player hung his head and didn't dare to say anything. In private, many players will use Sichuan dialect to imitate a coach's training, with eyebrows raised, vivid.

"They were all afraid of me, and I told them that I was a tiger and wanted to raise a pack of wolves, so I was very fierce. Sun Jianwei believes that if you want to be able to resist pressure in the game, you need to put enough pressure on your usual training. He was more afraid that their minds would be relaxed, and he would easily think of giving up. "They are in the rebellious period of adolescence, and I am 'fighting' with them every day. They will not be allowed to stop for a moment, because once they give up, they have no choice but to go back to the old way. In his nearly 30 years of coaching, Sun Jianwei said that he has never had such a strong feeling as when facing these girls: no matter what, they must be brought out of the hall.

The girls' hometown, Daliang Mountain, was once one of the most difficult "hard bones" on the map of poverty alleviation. In 2017, the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Zhi Gong Party, the Chengdu Municipal Committee of the Zhi Gong Party, the United Front Work Department of the Jinniu District Party Committee and the Education Bureau of Jinniu District helped Butuo County, Liangshan Prefecture, and identified women's football as the direction of assistance, named "Shimmer Action". The 2000th Middle School is a characteristic football campus in Chengdu, and Sun Jianwei, as the head coach of the "Shimmer Action", went to Butuo County to select seedlings. The average altitude here is more than <>,<> meters, and the children run all over the mountains, herding cattle and sheep, and their cardiopulmonary function is relatively strong. Since the children knew almost nothing about professional football knowledge, the selection team had to conduct basic physical fitness tests, such as sprinting and standing long jump, and those who met the standards were considered good seedlings.

When they heard that they were going to Chengdu to play football, some parents were a little hesitant, "If you can't play any famous games, you might as well come back and do farm work." "When parents learned that their children could take the road of sports specialties and be admitted to university in the future, they relentedly agreed.

"Shimmer Girl"

On the green field, they set new records

In 2019, 19 primary school girls became the first batch of "Shimmer Girls" to come to Chengdu, including 12-year-old Wazha Mori. Before she got into football, like the children in her village, she took a bus to the town more than ten kilometers away to study, and helped her family work after school. Dozens or hundreds of miles away from home are called "far away".

Chengdu is a place that only exists in the imagination. When the freshness of their first arrival passed, they tasted the taste of being alone in a foreign land for the first time: photos of their families were posted in the dormitory, which only aroused deeper nostalgia in the middle of the night.

Only training can bring emotions back to the field for a short time. In their diaries, they recorded all the subtle feelings they felt during training: the aches and pains they felt after the switchback run, the heaviness they had never felt before... Know it's hard, but you have to persevere. "No matter how tired I am, I have to get through this, everyone will encounter different setbacks, I must be strong. The tile slag wrote. After exhaustion, some people thought about giving up, but struggled for a while and then got up and continued practicing. The girls know that the coach is the "most thankful person", but he is always so strict that a few words can make people's scalps tighten. He always emphasized in an unquestioning tone, "Run, work hard, and play football for your future." ”

Wa Ji said that at the beginning, she was very scared when the coach trained people, but now she is not so afraid. "He scolded us and then unconsciously treated us well. She remembers that once the coach was hit by a car and limped to lecture, "I'm like this (and I'm still training), and you're still like this (not practicing well)." After imitating the coach's tone, he said movingly, "He has done a lot for us." ”

In March this year, the third "Gongga Cup" Youth Campus Football League in Sichuan Province was launched. This is the highest level of campus football in Sichuan Province, and the teams that advanced to the finals are all strong, which makes the Liangshan players feel pressure. "Training is tiring, but what can I do, we can only face reality. The night before the play, the tile dregs wrote this passage on each day. In the finals on the court, the girls took the initiative and completely faded away from their usual shyness. They finally won the game with a score of 3-2, setting a new record for Liangshan football in the "Gongga Cup". The moment they won the championship, the audience was boiling, and the players hugged each other and jumped and screamed. Unbeknownst to the audience, it had only been four years since they were first introduced to football.

Off the pitch, schoolwork and football are advancing simultaneously. During the school day, I started training after class at 5 p.m. every day, and trained for two hours to go to evening self-study. Fifteen-year-old Jilimo Zihe feels that class is far more difficult than playing football, especially because the twists and turns of chemical formulas give her a headache, and her test results are "indescribable". To her surprise, the chemistry teacher cared about her very much, and every time she met her, he would ask her to go to the office to make up for her lessons. Not long after I first came to Chengdu, Jili Zihe felt that he couldn't hold on anymore, so he called his parents and wanted to go home. But not now, she felt that since she had received a lot of help, she could not give up.

In the mountains and outside the mountains

"Spiritual support"

During the break, the teachers of "Operation Glimmer" will take the girls around, go to the amusement park to experience the exciting flying car, go to KFC to eat burgers, and go to the theater to watch "The Lion King"... The teachers hope that the girls will not only gain a skill, but also truly integrate into the life and way of thinking in the city, and inspire their future life. When he is not training, Sun Jianwei is very gentle with the girls and often takes them home for dinner. "When I get along with them, my feelings are slowly cultivated. The girls were a little surprised that the coach, who usually had a straight face and was extremely dignified, actually smiled and brought out a fragrant meal after being busy in the kitchen.

Far from the city, the breath of freshness wafts deep into the mountains. On her days off, she used video calls to tutor her younger brother in his homework, and her growing knowledge and vision allowed her to pass on what she had learned. There is a "time difference" between the mountains and the outside world, and the flow of information is relatively slow. And when the girls go home, they often bring the latest news from the provincial capital, and their conversation, clothing, and medals bring back stir up the quiet time in the village.

In the girls' descriptions, the lights of the city are constantly lit, and people are engaged in various professions and lives. The children of the village gathered around and listened over and over again. "Going to the outside of the mountains" has begun to become the dream of more and more children.

According to Fu Xi, the person in charge of the "Shimmer Action", the "Shimmer Action" selected a total of 40 girls to go to school in Chengdu in three batches, and has trained 5 national first-class athletes and 5 national second-class athletes. "Shimmer Action" has now entered version 2.0, and through the regular dispatch of coaches to local primary schools in Butuo County, football seedlings are cultivated on the spot. "Our purpose is to stimulate the local 'hematopoietic' function, and work together with the local government to expand the scope of football, so that more children can see the hope of coming out. ”

"Unlike economic support, it is a kind of spiritual support, and the growth of the next generation stimulates the internal motivation for change. Fu Xi said that the education a person receives determines his life path. Only through education can we distinguish between right and wrong and fundamentally change the face of the past. Today, education has become the top priority of Liangshan's local development. When selecting seedlings in Liangshan, parents often come up and ask if they can choose their own dolls. They also want to use football as a stepping stone to send the next generation to college.

Fu Xi obviously felt that it was because of the achievements of the first batch of women's football players that a wide range of driving forces were formed. He observed that the second and third batches of children who came to Chengdu were more likely to adapt to their new life, and were generally more cheerful and had clearer goals. The first batch of 19 pioneers became the "beacons" of the latecomers.

Outside of football

"Hope for a higher horizon"

What do you want to do when you grow up?" to teach kids like us to play soccer and get them out of the mountains. The girls replied in unison. They think that they started training too late, missed the golden age of developing their bodies, and that being a professional athlete is "a bit difficult", and that being a coach is a more realistic option. However, Sun Jianwei was very angry about this answer. "Teach you to play football, who taught you to only play football for the rest of your life?" he said excitedly. When he went to Liangshan to select them, Sun Jianwei had a struggle. Chengdu is prosperous, a little girl who has never been in the world suddenly comes into contact with that kind of world, if she is powerless to change, how can she turn back and face the reality of her family?" Sun Jianwei hopes that they will go to university to study other majors and not be limited to football. "Hopefully they will become people with a higher vision and benefit one party, which means a lot more than being a football coach. ”

In fact, he understands the burden of these rural children - they grow up in a place where they are burdened with the expectation of "making a good life for the whole family". On the other hand, it also bears the expectations of the outside world. "If I don't play football well, how can I be worthy of the uncles, aunts and well-wishers who helped us? Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today. "That's the question that the rubble has been thinking about all the time. layers of preoccupation cover up the innocence and bravery that they should have at this age. They feel responsible for their families, their hometowns, and the people who help them. As for yourself, always come last.

Because of the intense training, the team members can only go back twice a year, so every time they go home, they use their mobile phones to record the scenery and people in their hometown as much as possible, and play them back over and over again when they are outside. Under their lens, there are rolling mountains, earthy villages, vibrant greens, and large fields of wildflowers.

In the shot, the hometown is also changing. In 2020, the last poverty-stricken county in Liangshan Prefecture took off its hat. At the foot of the hillside, the government has invested in the construction of a blueberry base, enterprises in the woodland have engaged in the cultivation of traditional Chinese medicine, and new houses have stood on the flat ground. In the evening, the setting sun gently embraces the entire village. And Soma flowers. This plant with pink flowers and dwarf roots can also bloom in bitter cold areas, beautiful and tenacious, just like the daughter of these mountains.

Right now, outside of football, girls have come to junior high school or high school. When it comes to college, Wazha Moji cautiously says that he doesn't think that far. But when asked about the university campus in Chengdu that she had visited, her eyes lit up and she talked a lot. She felt that it was not like a school, but like another city, and the people in the city were full of dreams. She shyly asked, what subjects can I choose in college? Can I study physical education at the same time, but can I choose one of the others? How many points can I graduate with, I can't type, and I can't write by hand? After listening to the answer, she showed a look of "It's so difficult," but her face was flushed.

What the future holds may be difficult to predict. But what is certain is that girls will eventually realize that football is not all about growing up, and they will eventually understand the coach's "hate iron does not make steel" - if you want to stand on a higher place in life and have pursuits, you should learn rich knowledge, understand and plan your life.

Chengdu Business Daily-Red Star News reporter Du Yuquan Zhang Zhiyi