Syed Rahi: Me, China and Football

Posted on: 20 July 2020 by Syed Rahi in 2019/20

Syed and his team mates winning the Alumni Cup

Syed shares his experience on the Year in China at XJTLU.

Though my Year in China at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), Suzhou was short-lived, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the memories I made. Now, I will pass on some knowledge on how you make the most of your time abroad in China by engaging with university societies.

An aspect of study abroad that is often overlooked is joining societies/clubs, so my advice would be to join a society that interests you from the get-go. Joining a society will not only widen your social network as you will meet other students (international and home) but you will also gain various skills and knowledge that will enhance your employability.

During the semester I spent at XJTLU, I was a member of the university’s football club playing for the first team and as well as Haetae FC. Although, I will be honest, when I arrived in Suzhou, I had no intention of joining any sporting societies at XJTLU. However, my view changed after I was given a tour of XJTLU’s newly renovated sporting facility in South Campus and from that decided to attend the university football trials.

I remember making my way to the sports facility with a few friends for the trials at 9 am with temperatures already reaching 30oC. The trials consisted of four stages and in the end only 15 players were to be selected from 100 participants. Two hours later, I made the selection for the first team, one of six international students on the team. Within the week I was given my own home and away kits with the number I chose to play under (Rahi 25), attended training twice a week and by the end of the semester I participated in five tournaments, winning all five tournaments. A couple weeks after trials, I was invited by a fellow member of XJTLU FC to join Haetae FC, a team comprised of Korean students at XJTLU that also played football weekly.

I’d say my favourite highlights would firstly be my first tournament with XJTLU first team where we reached final of the XJTLU CUP, beating XJTLU lecturers’ team 7-1, I assisted four goals in that game. The second would be when a player from the losing team of Haetae FC had to wash the bibs and I scored winning goal in the practice match so my team didn’t have to wash the bibs.