A charity campaign jointly launched by the China Youth Development Foundation and the crew of Beijing Satellite TV's "U-Ball" program has reached into Xunwu county, Ganzhou, Jiangxi province to promote rural teen soccer development. This is part of the effort to advance the Healthy China initiative while enhancing the level of China's youth soccer's competition abilities.

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Teen soccer players play a match at Chengjiang Central Primary School in Xunwu county, Ganzhou, Jiangxi province. [Photo courtesy of Beijing Satellite TV]

In the past three years, the rural school soccer development support plan has been deeply connected to the development of local students in Xunwu. Zeng Sheng, deputy director of Xunwu County Education, Technology, and Sports Bureau, said that from TV shows to activities, such as talent training programs to material donations, more and more U-Ball students have not only improved their playing skills, but also achieved growth in life and their own vision. "More importantly, every precious opportunity brings them one step closer to their dreams," he said.

A female soccer team named "Chenxi," or "Dawn," was founded at the county's Chengjiang Central Primary School and later received media exposure, becoming the local pride with help and support.

"Soccer has a power that can inspire children," said Zhou Bingtong, principal of Chengjiang Central Primary School. "Chengjiang Central Primary School has cultivated Chenxi Team and a lot more excellent soccer players since then thanks to the China Youth Development Foundation and 'U-Ball' program."

"They not only provide children with opportunities to improve themselves, but also bring a wealth of sports materials to the school," added Zhou. "We will also live up to our mission and make more effort to cultivate more good seedlings for the Chinese soccer talent pool."

With support and guidance from the China Cares for the Next Generation Working Committee (CCNGWC), China's first youth soccer competition reality show "U-Ball" broadcast its first season in 2020. The show followed the school and the foundation, promoting the soccer charity plan. The upcoming second season, which will be broadcast in September on platforms such as Beijing Satellite TV, CMG Mobile Apps, and Douyin, will highlight six young soccer players from the school as they pursue their dreams. For the show, they enrolled in the U-Ball Academy and received 30-day high-quality and high-intensity group training before graduating with excellence.

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Students who benefited from the "U-Ball" charity action and TV program pose for a group photo at Chengjiang Central Primary School in Xunwu county, Ganzhou, Jiangxi province. [Photo courtesy of Beijing Satellite TV]

Sun Changpeng, chief producer of the TV show, said that they will continue to support rural soccer development and contribute their efforts to push forward the healthy growth of more teenagers, boost the integration of sports and education, and enhance the awareness and enthusiasm of local youth for the soccer sport, especially in remote and underdeveloped areas.

Many students have also described how the charity program and soccer matches have changed them, with many introvert classmates telling how they became optimistic, lively, and confident after participating in the soccer activities. Recently, a seminar was held to lecture students on how to protect their eyesight, while other charity donations also helped the high-quality development of local physical education.