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  Breaking the silence at the home of football   



A group of deaf and dumb sportsmen from Zibo, a northern Chinese town considered the birth-place of football - are getting a huge kick out a new competition.

"The team was firstly set up by several people voluntarily. They played matches with teams from other associations for disabled person. Football gives them happiness," said Cai Houcheng, coach of the team.

According to Cai, with more deaf and dumb people joining in the team, the Zibo Disabled Person's Association help organize a football squad and send them to play in provincial-level competitions and some of them become member of provincial team and even national team.

The traditional culture of the sport in the city is believed to play an inspirational role to have increasing number of people, man and women, young and old, and even disabled persons involved in football. "People here show exceptional interests of the sport. Our players are improving so rapidly that three of them joined the Shandong team and won a second-place at last year's national championships," Cai said.

According to historical records and unearthed relics, about 2,500 years ago in the city was a similar football game called "Cuju".

"Cu" means to kick, and "Ju" refers to a stuffed leather ball. There were strict rules, professional players and even football clubs in ancient China just like today. FIFA admitted the findings of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), which has officially concluded football originated in Linzi, Zibo, two years ago.

"They are smart when playing on the field. They cannot talk and shout to each other when competing. But by having more competitions and trainings, they play an incredible teamwork football."

Cai said the team has been seeded for the Shandong Games for Disabled Person, which starts from 25th, and training together for a month. "Most of them have jobs. So it is difficult to call them up together. The training time is also short," he said. "Thanks to their passion and love of the sport, they are enjoying every moment on the field with their feeling and communicating with expression of eyes and gestures."

"I am sure the world is not silence for them on the football field."

Cai added it is unlikely for them to pick up football as a profession as each gets only an allowance of 40 yuan (US$5) everyday during the resembled training and competitions.

"20 is for meals while anther half for accommodation. So they choose to take Instant noodle every day."

"But they have no complains. Football has become an inseparable part of the life."





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