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Students enjoy ground-breaking football tour to China

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UEL Sports visits China to cement collaboration with BSU

The University of East London is forming an allegiance with the Beijing Sport University (BSU) in China, and a delegation from UEL visited the country this summer to help strengthen the union.

For eight days in June, 31 students who make up UEL’s men’s and women’s football teams, together with their coaches and Sports Therapy lecturer Michael Cole visited China for a football tour to mark the start of the partnership with BSU – the largest specialist sports university in the world. 

The trip marked an important step forward in the relationship between UEL and BSU, which was also cemented by the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions. 

Under the agreement, UEL and BSU will explore ways of establishing student and staff exchanges in the field of sport and related disciplines, working together on joint projects and promoting the development of Chinese language and cultural education at UEL.

A key focus of the partnership will be in helping to develop football in China from grassroots to the highest level, in line with the Chinese government’s strategy to turn the country into a football superpower.

The UEL delegation was based at BSU’s vast, modern campus in the heart of the Chinese capital and the teams played six football matches against three Chinese universities during their trip.

One student member of the delegation was Jaymini Patel, who is in her second year of a BSc in Sports Therapy.

“I was offered a placement as the undergraduate Sports Therapy support,” explained Jaymini. “If there was anyone who got an injury while playing, or needed a massage, taping, or rehabilitation, I was there to assist.” 

The UEL students enjoyed sightseeing visits in Beijing and beyond, taking in tourist landmarks such as the Summer Palace, the Great Wall of China and Beijing’s Olympic Park, which includes the Bird’s Nest (the national stadium) and the Water Cube (the aquatics centre). 

“It still looks like the Olympics just happened or are about to happen,” said Jaymini. “All the banners are still up and it’s still very busy. Compared to our Olympic Park in Stratford, the Chinese one is a lot cleaner.  There was no litter whatsoever and there’s also more greenery and water fountains.” 

With 22,000 students, BSU is the world’s largest sports specialist university, occupying an enormous, high-tech campus that includes 25 gymnasiums and indoor sports halls and 62 outdoor sports fields.

It is the national centre of excellence for numerous Chinese sports, including gymnastics, volleyball and basketball, and in the last four Olympic Games its students and staff have won 30 gold medals, 16 silvers and nine bronzes.

“We did a tour of BSU campus which compared to ours is a little weird as their halls of residence are like little hotels,” said Jaymini.

“Then we went to their trampoline area. It’s like our sports hall but filled with trampolines and pictures of people who have competed and won Olympic medals. The facilities over there are extremely good.”

We hope that the Chinese students will be similarly impressed with UEL’s facilities when they pay a return visit.