How to meet part of the French community after only 5 days in Beijing? One answer : the football…
I started to discuss with my new colleagues and they asked me if I had plan for my first night. I answered that I should go early to the hotel and take some rest to avoid jet lag. They suggested that I should join them to play football after the office hours to be really tired and sleep well. I learnt that the team had training every 2 days to prepare a football tournament on Saturday against other french companies in Beijing.
This is how I began to play football in a new town with people who speak an other language only 6 hours after landing in Beijing.
The test was ok for them and I was recruited for the Saturday tournament. Two days later, I received my new football kit (shirt, short and socks) and should buy new football shoes.
I went to Haidian Huangzhuang (15 min walk from the office). This place contains lot of shopping centers (even a ‘Carrefour’, well known supermarket in France) but after several hours in 4 different malls, I didn’t find my shoes and was really tired. The day after, after checking on Lonely Planet Guide, I went to Sanlitun Yashow Market, the fake paradise. I asked for football shoes to a lady and she showed me nice blue Adidas pair. I tried both foot (we never know) and started to bargain. I reduced the price by 50% (770 Rmb, approximately 75€) but I am sure that she was pretty happy by this deal later on. :/
I went to Chaoyang Park really early on Saturday (7.45, wake up at 6:00) to play this famous football tournament. It was planned for all day, Group matches the morning and Final matches during the afternoon. It regrouped 20 teams from different French companies who are located in Beijing (Airbus, EDF, Veolia…). It was a huge numbers of French Beijingers in the same place with 15/20 players per team.
It allowed me to have first contacts during the matches and on the bar corner with a Tsin Tao or a “Ricard”. Congratulations to the organization team who handled the day perfectly!
Concerning football, we had a good start during the morning (1w, 1d and 2l), finished 3rd in our group and really hard afternoon (2l). We finished 12th on the 4th edition of Thomas Marechal Corporate Beijing Tournament. This was a good result for a team who started to train 10 days ago and finished the last game with 6 valid players (on 5 vs 5 game). Definitely need to come back next year with more training…