Football is a truly global sport, and the World Cup has brought nations together in competition since 1930.
Last month, Li Po Chun United World College showed the same spirit by bringing together its own international mixture of students in the LPC World Cup. More than 80 students competed in seven mixed teams for the championship title.
With more than 80 nationalities represented, the teams were divided into cultural groups including Latin America, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa.
This annual tournament was organised entirely by the student football team captains, and supported by the school to celebrate diversity even in competition.
The African cultural group were crowned champions after a heated round of matches. “The African cultural team were the biggest threat in the whole tournament because their players are tall, muscular and strong,” says Gabriel Ng, 18, a Hong Kong native on the Chinese cultural team. “Most of the players on their team were very talented.”
But size isn’t always everything, especially in a fast-paced game like football. “Despite being one of the smallest teams in the tournament, the Latin American cultural team advanced through the group stage,” says team-member Eduardo Puerta, 16. “One of the things that made our team a big threat was the involvement of every player and I personally praise the defensive work of one of our Argentinian female players [Ludmila Puchulu, 19], who would tackle players almost twice her size.” Eduardo says his team had some of the most devoted female players in the whole tournament.
And while the Chinese cultural team ultimately lost to the Africans, that didn’t mean they weren’t a threat.
“The Chinese cultural group [posed a big challenge because they were] physically involved in the game,” says Eduardo. “We played one game against them in the group stage that we ended up tying 2-2. I remember their supporters and team members celebrating regardless of the tie.”
North American cultural team-member William Stainier, 17, agrees that the Chinese were tough to beat. “The best moment in the tournament for me was winning the semi-final against the Chinese cultural team,” says William. “It was a highly competitive match and they had a lot of skilled players.”
Despite intense competition on the field, the tournament brought everyone closer together. “The European cultural team managed to assemble a team at the last minute,” William recalls. “I was both happy that they had managed to assemble a team after there were rumours that they were dropping out of the tournament, and surprised by those who had showed up. They had great team spirit and it was great to see them play together.”
For Chinese cultural team’s Gabriel, the highlight was seeing how the whole group bonded with each other during the tournament. “At first, we weren’t very confident, and our team members didn’t even care how they performed,” she says. “However, after we won some games, the players started to play with great spirit. Football seemed like a language, bringing different people together.”