3rd Annual Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival
As National Taiwan University officials watched the numbers of international students enrolled at NTU continuing to rise they reached out to other universities across Taiwan and instituted the annual Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival.
The games, held this year from May 8th through the 10th, are fast becoming an international event - drawing audience, alumni and those educated Taiwan’s the other elite universities back to Taiwan for the festivities.
In this the 3rd year of the games 15 teams from 14 universities took the field. Over 50 countries were represented.
NTU organizers have 3 stated goals for the event:
Allow international students the chance to interact with with local students, with each other and with their universities through the lingua franca of soccer;
Provide international student, local students and alumni an informal opportunity to network.
Highlight the number of educational opportunities that exist for international students in Taiwan - as was illustrated by the numerous international students who competed and alumni who returned to watch!
This year’s event was a winning combination of all three goals. The sun was shining and the turf was flying as teams took to the field and international students & returning alumni from overseas as well as local students and university administrators headed for the stands. After three grueling days it was the team from Ming Chuan University, Taipei 3rd place; National Pingtung University of Science and Technology 2nd. The Champions – National Taipei University of Technology. For their efforts team members not only took trophies home to their campuses but also shared in prize money.
Here is a sampling of how some of the players, audience & attendees saw the matches.
Deore Ravindra Ramesh 迪歐, India: President NTU Foreign Student Association
...enjoy the spirit of sportsmanship and speak the common language of soccer.
When asked how to run an event like the Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival Deore Ravindra Ramesh described the months of planning it took. Deore Ravindra Ramesh hails from India and is perusing his Doctorate in Pharmaceutical Sciences at NTU.
...build the network between the international students and local students.
Describing the spirit of the Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival Deore Ravindra Ramesh noted that with 15 teams from 14 universities and players from over 50 countries its “almost like a mini World Cup”. Further, that students come “here, they enjoy the spirit of sportsmanship and speak common language of soccer.”
And, that it allows them “to build the network between the international students and local students.” Deore Ravindra Ramesh further noted the remarks of Ambassador Efrain R. Novelo of Belieze, that the games should be more festival than competition, an opportunity to unite students in Taiwan.
Dawda Fatty 趙大威, Gambia: National Taiwan University of Technology - Best Player International Students Soccer Festival
...my team really played together. We really understand each other.
29 year-old Dawda Fatty of Gambia was selected as the Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival’s Best Player. Dawda Fatty is in his second year of a Mechanical Engineering program at National Taiwan University of Technology.
In describing his achievement he was at pains to mention his teammates noting ..."my team really played together. We really understand each other." Though, he was willing to admit that he did have some pretty good games himself this year.
The National Taiwan University of Technology team practices twice a week - every Tuesday and Thursday for about 3 hours. One challenge the team faced was that their home pitch is not quite regulation size. While that may have affected earlier teams this year’s team turned it to an advantage. Dawda Fatty said the smaller size enabled players to emphasize their passing skills giving them the ability to “understand each other properly.”
Taiwan is good. Life is good in Taiwan.
What do you think about Taiwan?
Taiwan is good. Life is good in Taiwan.
I just miss my family sometimes. I miss my home. I miss my friends. I miss a lot of people. But, I...feel at home when I am in Taiwan. It’s safe here. Life is good.”
What are your plans for the future?
After my graduation I plan to go back to my country. I plan to work from our government for some time so we can have some new Gambia: new development, new technology.
Dr. Jer-Ming Hu 胡哲明 Deputy Dean of International Affairs
...let people from different countries and different universities get together and to use this opportunity to…use soccer as a common language.
Dr. Jer-Ming Hu 胡哲明 described the Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival as a way "to let people from different countries and different universities get together and to use this opportunity to…use soccer as a common language."
We believe that next year will be even a bigger event.
“It’s actually a very interesting set up - soccer itself has different rules in different countries” so back in 2006 & 2007 NTU organizers had to research what set of rules would be applied. The festival has gained fast popularity across Taiwan, with some teams even being turned away this year because they missed the registration deadline.
"We believe that next year will be even a bigger event."
Upcoming Festivals may even see teams invited from universities around Asia.
Mamadi Colley 柯利, Gambia: National Taiwan University of Technology Team Captain & Champions of the Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival
Taiwan – I really love Taiwan. I like the people...they are really friendly.
Mamadi Colley captained the National Taiwan University of Technology team to their win in the 3rd Annual Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival. Mamadi Colley comes from Gambia and is 26 years old, currently a junior studying Electrical Engineering.
Mamadi Colley has played in the Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival every year since its inception. In both previous years his team reached the quarter finals only to be eliminated – in 2007 by NCCU and in 2008 byo Ping Tung.
Mamadi Colley was team captain in 2008 and elimination did not sit well with him. He noted that this year the NTUT team was “well prepared.” According to Mamadi Colley the team’s strong roster of players suffered from one flaw in 2008 – “overconfidence…and we lost very easily”. A facet they turned to their advantage this year. This year’s strategy was to “lower our confidence. To take each team very seriously. Attack them. One-to-one, until the game is finished.” And further, “We make sure we don’t argue with the other teams even if they play rough…calm ourselves and then continue our game. That’s the strategy we used.”
Mamadi Colley also noted the NTUT team’s strong practice schedule: two days a week plus Saturdays spent playing teams all around Taiwan.
Mamadi Colley noted that captaining a soccer team in a foreign country and winning it all - after his team having been eliminated twice previously - was a special experience. “Right now I really feel very, very happy and I think I will not forget this rest of my life.”
So, what do you think about Taiwan?
"Taiwan – I really love Taiwan. I like the people...they are really friendly. It’s very…in my school I have my classmates" and they are so helpful. When I first came my Chinese was bad...but they helped me a lot. Right now, it's so-so. Really, they helped me a lot."
Mr. Efrain R. Novelo 納維羅, Charge d'Affaires Embassy of Belize 貝里斯駐華大使館 代辦 & Mrs. Isaura Novelo
This is great – one way to bring the students from different cultures, different languages, different backgrounds and bring them together as one big family, and have them have fun.
Having loved the game since childhood Belieze Embassy Charge d'Affaires Efrain R. Novelo said “Yes, I will attend!” right away when invited to the Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival.
"This is great – one way to bring the students from different cultures, different languages, different backgrounds and bring them together as one big family, and have them have fun." That’s why the word is…"'festival'. It’s not a competition.”
Once you’ve said “Yes.” to any competition -- right away you’re a winner!
What do you want to tell the students, tell the teams?
“Each team, to me…are to me are winners already. I said it a while ago “We are all winners” and as such I don’t want [any players] to feel like they are losers. Because, once you’ve said “Yes.” to any competition -- right away you’re a winner!
“So, my message to them that they must abide by FIFA’s fair play. They have a referee in the middle of the field and they have two linesmen and I want the players to understand that that’s the reason we have a referee and a linesman. They are the ones who set rules and they are the ones who’ve got to enforce the rules. So, I’m going to ask them please abide by those rules. I used to play football.”
What position did you play?
“I was a striker. I used to be the left wing. And, that’s why you see me here supporting the players you know. In fact my wife is with me and I told my wife I want to change this and put on the uniform from one of my students. Change it, and then I go play there - nobody would know that I’m a student!”
How do you feel about Taiwan?
“We love Taiwan. We’ve been in Taiwan for nine months now – its myself and my wife and our two children. All of us love it here. The people of Taiwan are so kind people, are beautiful people. The culture and the food…I think they are the best.”
Mrs. Isaura Novelo
How do you feel about Taiwan?
“I love Taiwan that people are so great they are so helpful and food, the night markets, the flower markets. But, most of all, what I have enjoyed of Taiwan is the people…they are great!”
But, most of all, what I have enjoyed of Taiwan is the people… they are great!
Nicaraguan Ambassador, The Honorable Mr. William M. Tapia 尼加拉瓜共和國駐華大使館 尼加拉瓜共和國駐華特命全權大使 達比亞
I got my university education in Taiwan [at NTU]. I built my character. I built my way of being who am I.
How do you feel about joining this event?
“Well, I feel very, very, happy, very excited, very honored at the same time. Because, as I told you before, this is my 母校, my alma mater” National Taiwan University. “When I came here in 1963 as a foreign exchange student getting scholarship from the Republic of China" I could never have imagined that one day I would return as my country’s ambassador to Taiwan. “So, I feel very honored and happy at the same time.”
Please can you tell us how you came to study at NTU??
"Well, right – you know in 1963 there was an offer to some Nicaraguan students about coming to Taiwan to study under a scholarship program. So, I said ‘Well, I’m going to study in Taiwan.’ and I came. You know, our dormitory used to be where that beautiful building is right now. And I used to play tennis right in this place and the soccer field was over there. The old gymnasium is still there and still some things of the university have the same buildings, but most of them are new."
Why did you choose to study in Taiwan?
"Do you really want to know the truth? First – I have loved the Orient the since I was a little kid. I really wanted to come. One of the places I want to go was India…but China was my second choice you know because I was so fascinated by the culture by the customs and everything of the Chinese. And, the other reason is because I didn’t have money to pay for university in Nicaragua and there was a scholarship. So, I said ‘Well, I’ll go and try to be something myself.’ So, I’m very grateful two Taiwan…. And, I am very proud to be a National Taiwan University graduate because that means that I really took good advantage of the opportunity they offered me. And, I’m very grateful to the Republic of China because they gave me my university career and they gave me my future. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be the ambassador….”
Why do you say they "gave me my future", "my career"?
“Because I got my university education in Taiwan [at NTU]. I built my character. I built my way of being who am I.
"I’m really more Chinese than many Chinese, I think. And, it has given me the opportunity to enjoy, to learn, to absorb the really culture and custom that I wanted for my whole life which was the Chinese one.”
What was your major when you arrived at NTU?
"Well, I came to study Chemical Engineering. Could you believe that?! Chemical Engineering! Imagine what I…"
I cannot imagine!
You can’t imagine!
You had to speak Chinese?
"Well, we learned one year [of] Chinese. But, even that was not enough because your mathematics were so far away from the ones I learned."
A totally different system!
"So, I changed to the foreign languages department first and then I got Chinese history and some [additional] languages as my degree."
So, you came here for an undergraduate degree?
"Undergraduate degree – that’s what I got, undergraduate degree."
And after you got your degree?
"I went to Japan, to the embassy. To study and work at the embassy because I knew Chinese, I knew Japanese, perfect English, French. You know, so I was suitable for an embassy job."
So, you had a happy campus life at NTU?
"I did, I did. It really was beautiful and fantastic really, really, really. As I told you this used to be our tennis court."
Did you play soccer in this area?
"Yes, I did sometimes…I never played in my life well I played just a little [as a student] but, I loved it. But, I played tennis also more than that."
Did you return to Taiwan after graduationg from NTU?
"Yes, I came in 1972 to open the embassy, to open the office of the embassy - as a Charge d'Affaires. Went back in 1975, and now I am back as an ambassador."
How do you feel about Taiwan?
"Well, wonderful! Beautiful – it’s a beautiful country, with the whole thing to be a country and I wish the best, the best of success to my second country – Taiwan!"
Salah H. Khudaid 古涵山, Iraq: National Taiwan University / NTUFSA Team Captain
I believe as people have more places to play soccer, the more people will begin playing soccer.
Salah H. Khudaid, 22 years old, comes from the Kurdish region of Iraq. He is currently a senior in NTU’s Department of Civil Engineering. He is happy to see the steady increase in teams as the Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival has matured. During this year’s Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival Salah H. Khudaid says he has met people from all over the world attending universities across the length & breadth of Taiwan. Salah H. Khudaid feels that increased exposure can only add to soccer’s popularity, in Taiwan and around the world.
"I believe as people have more places to play soccer, the more people will begin playing soccer."
Salah H. Khudaida has been playing soccer since he was 6 years old. At NTU, the NTUFSA team practices twice a week, usually Thursday and Sundays. Salah H. Khudaida says he hopes next year there will more universities will participate in the Taiwan International Students Soccer Festival. And Salah H. Khudaida will be to play with you if you so choose – he will begin as anNTU graduate student next year.