Zou Tao: The Rising Star of Women’s Soccer from the Mountains
By Tang Tao and Shuwen
Hangzhou, September 11 – The torch relay of the 19th Asian Games continued in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, with 170 torchbearers representing various professions. Among them was Zou Tao, a young women’s soccer player hailing from the mountains of southern Jiangxi.
Zou Tao, a high school freshman at Ganzhou City’s No. 3 Middle School, found her calling in football, which paved a new path in her life. Determined to follow in the footsteps of her idol Wang Shuang, Zou Tao joined the women’s soccer team in high school. She relentlessly trained, fueled by the desire to achieve glory for her country with her football skills.
Zou Tao’s affair with football began during her elementary school days. She joined the school’s football team, where young left-handed students dominated. Despite being in the fourth grade and standing at only 1.25 meters tall, Zou Tao signed up. Although she had never watched a football game before, the sight of the ball rolling on the ground captivated her. Zou Tao fell in love with the sport instantly. Recognizing her talent, her coach applauded her quick understanding of movements, adept left foot, and remarkable progress. Soon, she became one of the team’s “stars.”
Zou Tao’s mother, You Ximei, shared that her daughter’s love for football is unwavering. Zou Tao diligently works on her physical fitness, waking up at 6 am daily for running sessions. Even during the two-hour training after classes, she never slows down and stops only when drenched in sweat.
Despite her petite stature, Zou Tao exudes an unwavering determination on the field. During a training session, she suffered a fall while trying to grab the ball. Her right hand got crushed under her bodyweight, resulting in a fracture. However, she remained composed. Merely three days after the injury, she secretly practiced with the ball in her room.
“Women from the mountains are fearless and dauntless in the face of challenges,” stated Zou Tao’s first coach. He often witnessed her competing fiercely for the ball, be it with her teammates or boys. In football training, girls often display more tenacity than boys, overcoming various difficulties through sheer willpower.
Through hard work and determination, the unassuming Zou Tao led her small-town team to achieve commendable results in several county and city football matches.
Football not only brings joy but also instills confidence in Zou Tao, as noticed by her mother, You Ximei. “From her childhood days, whether it was windy or rainy, on the playground or in the mud, as long as she played football, my daughter had boundless energy. Now that she has grown up and started to travel to different places, the game became her passion, providing her with a sense of direction.”
Today, the “Feng Chasing Girl” has emerged from the mountains, taking center stage at the Hangzhou Asian Games torch relay. Determined and proud to be a torchbearer alongside her mentor, Wang Shuang, Zou Tao gave a thumbs-up gesture as she handed over the reins to the previous torchbearer. She hopes that more girls like her will embrace football and revel in the beauty that sports bring.
Editor: Shu Mengqing
Xinhua News Agency, Hangzhou, September 11, Title: Zou Tao’s Torchbearer: A young women’s soccer player who emerged from the depths of the mountains
Xinhua News Agency reporters Tang Tao and Shuwen
On the 11th, the torch relay of the 19th Asian Games continued in Hangzhou in Shaoxing, Zhejiang. There were 170 torchbearers from all walks of life running in Shaoxing. One of them was Zou Tao, a young women’s soccer player who came from the mountains of southern Jiangxi.
Zou Tao is a high school freshman at No. 3 Middle School in Ganzhou City, Jiangxi Province. Football opened a new track in life for this little girl from the mountainous area of southern Jiangxi. After entering high school, Zou Tao joined the women’s soccer team as he wished, He trained hard only to one day catch up in the footsteps of his idol Wang Shuang and win glory for the country with’ to football skills.
Zou Tao’s relationship with football began in elementary school. The mountain elementary school he was attending at the time formed a campus football team that consisted mainly of left-handed kids. When the team was first formed, there were no differences between men and women, and Zou Tao, who was still in the fourth grade and only 1.25 meters tall, signed up.
Zou Tao had never watched a football game before, but the ball rolling on the ground attracted him very much. “I fell in love with football at first sight,” said Zou Tao. In the eyes of the coach, Zou Tao is a very talented child, who understands movements very quickly, has a skilled left foot, and has a sudden development. Soon he became one of the “stars” in the team.
Zou Tao’s mother, You Ximei, told reporters that Zou Tao is full of love for football. In order to meet her physical fitness standards, she gets up and runs around 6 o’clock every morning. During the session training two hours after class, she doesn’t stop for a second, and she’s covered in sweat when she stops.
Although he is not tall, Zou Tao is extremely determined on the court. During a training session, Zou Tao accidentally fell while grabbing the ball. When she fell to the ground, the weight of her body crushed her right hand, causing her right hand to break, but she remained calm. Just three days after the injury, he secretly hid in his room and practiced ball again.
“Women in the mountains dare to fight and they are not afraid of hardship.” Zou Tao’s first coach said that sometimes he saw Zou Tao playing football with his teammates and boys, and they were fighting for every ball. In football training, due to physical fitness and other factors, girls often have more tenacity than boys to overcome many difficulties.
It was with this hard work that Zou Tao, an inconspicuous girl, led an equally inconspicuous small town team to achieve good results in several county and city football matches.
In You Ximei’s eyes, soccer brings not only happiness to her daughter, but also confidence. “When I was a child, it didn’t matter if it was windy or rainy, on the playground or on the mud, even if I turned into a ‘mud monkey’, as long as I played soccer, my daughter would have endless energy. Now she’s grown up and started going to different places. Playing games really turns love into a goal, and the whole person has a direction too.”
Now, the “Feng Chasing Girl” has walked out of the mountains and stepped onto the stage of the Hangzhou Asian Games torch relay. “I am very happy and proud to be the torch bearer in the Asian Games as sister Wang Shuang.” When handing over the reins to the previous torch bearer, Zou Tao especially made a thumbs up gesture. He hoped more girls would like him. Football, enjoy the beauty brought by sports.
Editor: Shu Mengqing
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