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China’s team comes from one province! 

Bhubaneswar, November 29

Despite its sporting culture, several provinces and gargantuan size, China, surprisingly, had to pick its entire 18-member World Cup squad from a single province!  China is made up of 34 provinces, but the entire team belongs to one province — Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Hockey is not that popular in China. It is mostly played by the Daur people, a Mongolic-speaking ethnic group in northeastern China. They have been playing their traditional sport ‘Beikou’, which is similar to field hockey, for about 1,000 years. Modern hockey took root in China in the mid-1970s.

“All players from the team are from Inner Mongolia. They all are from just one club and one province,” said China’s South Korean coach Sang Ryul Kim. Kim, who guided his own country to a silver medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and mentored China to beat India and Pakistan before claiming the 2006 Doha Asiad silver, has got a wealth of experience as a coach.

“Hockey is popular in that region of China. It’s similar to a traditional sport of that region named ‘Beikou’, so these players have easily adapted to the game,” he added. China will make their World Cup debut against England on Friday. The coach said his players have the capability to cause an upset or two in the tournament. “They have the fitness, mental strength as well. The only problem with our players is that they have very little experience of playing against strong teams. That’s the only weakness,” Kim said. “If they are worried and doubtful on the pitch, they can’t do anything. If they are confident, they can do something,” he added. 

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