Students between the ages of 9 and 12 from China, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Panama gathered at Shanghai University of Sport recently to attend a winter camp to enjoy culture and football.
It was the first "Belt and Road" Culture and Soccer Winter Camp organized by the university's National Science and Technology Park and sponsored by Shanghai Freelykick Development Co.
The event's aim was to promote the sharing of cultural and sport resources and develop youth football in Belt and Road countries.
Organizers also wanted to promote students' national cultural awareness and global vision.
The students not only attended football training and competitions, they also learned skills to protect themselves in sports and cope with frustration.
They also attended activities to learn some of the culture and languages of each country.
As the event was organized near Spring Festival, they also tried some traditional ways to celebrate Chinese New Year, such as paper-cutting for window decoration, making dumplings and having a reunion dinner.
Organizers said they will organize more summer and winter camps and international football competitions and invite more students to participate in the football-themed exchange program.
Ivo Moreno, from Panama, said it was a great opportunity for him to play football in a different way, meeting new friends and new coaches from different countries.
It was his first visit to China.
"We don't know much about China because it's on the other side of the world for us," he said. "I knew it's big with a different culture and the food is also different."
But when he came to Shanghai, he learned more about the country and the city when communicating with Chinese camp members and traveling to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and some other sites in the city.
"It's so advanced and people are so smart here, and also disciplined," he said. "I also learned some Chinese, such as ni hao, which means 'hello,' and ni hao ma, which means 'how are you'."
Moreno was delighted to experience the celebrations of Chinese New Year.
"We made dumplings, they were delicious," he said.
He said that though the weather was cold for him as his homeland was hot, he felt great about the camp because he met a lot of new friends from five countries in four continents.
"That's priceless for me," he said.
He was also delighted to meet some Panamanian students who live in China and also attended the camp.
The student traveled to Beijing with his parents for three days after the camp to learn more about the country.