Hi, dad, I waved to you through the big screen at World Cup opening ceremony
Does anyone still remember Chen Linqi, the shining football boy in the Hero 's Legacy Program? How time flies! On November 17, 2022, with the support of our partner Mengniu Dairy Company, Linqi finally embarked on the journey to FIFA World Cup Qatar to fulfill the beautiful agreement with his father. This agreement has far transcended the meaning of a football game, and it is more about the pursuit of dreams and a son’s deep concern for his father.
At 6 pm local time in Qatar on November 20, the grand opening ceremony of the 22nd FIFA World Cup took place at Al Bayt Stadium in front of 60,000 fans from all over the world. Each of them was cheerfully immersed in the festival atmosphere kindled by the terrific performance, especially the play of theme songs for previous World Cups. When the giant model of FIFA World Cup trophy finally appeared in the center of the stadium, the audience all got very excited.
After the opening ceremony, players from the host country Qatar and Ecuador began to warm up. Chen Linqi and three other Chinese boys entered the court through the player tunnel under the guidance of field staff. The official FIFA host then led them to greet the audience. When the boys’ faces appeared on the two large ceiling screens of the stadium, the audience responded to them enthusiastically with their applause and cheers.
When I saw Linqi walking towards me, I instantly jumped from my seat and rushed to the front row of in order to take a photo of him from the nearest distance. However, I was blocked by the filed staff in the third row. In a moment of desperation, I said to him, "You see the four boys waving on the field? The one on the right is my son. How proud I am! Will you allow me to take a picture on the edge? Surprisingly, this man immediately changed his attitude and said, "Sure! Congratulations!", and then showed me the way to the front row with smile.
Linqi and the other boys were in high spirits. They walked around the court to see the players' warm-up and feel the enthusiasm from the auditorium up-close. I was busy with taking photos and videos for them, keeping switching the focal length of my phone. I recorded the entire process of their walking around the court and I believe that will be an extremely precious record in their growth.
Chen Linqi and his friends waved to the audience (photoed by Chen Xingjia)
In March 2020, Linqi's father lost his life when fighting with COVID-19 in the front line. He was a super football fan, and Linqi had been playing football with him since he was still a child. Every weekend the father and the son would play football together no matter what happened. After his father passed away, Linqi was depressed for quite a while, and thanks to the encouragement of his mother and brother, he finally walked out and retuned to the court. Linqi said each time when he runs on the court, he feels like dad is still around. In the evening of October 25 last year, at the press conference jointly held by Mengniu Dairy Company and CCTV, Linqi recalled the agreement he made with his father. He once asked his father, "Dad, can we watch the World Cup in person one day?", and his father said "Yes, of course!".
If Linqi’s father in heaven could see his son stand on the court of World Cup today, I believe they could feel each other at that moment.
It was 11pm local time when I returned to the hotel. I had a brief meeting with the 11 Chinese football teenagers sponsored by Mengniu in the lobby, where I also shared with them the adventure I had during the halftime break today (As to what this adventure is exactly about and how magical it is, we will find out tomorrow!) Hearing it, all the children were very happy. During tomorrow's China-Qatar youth football friendly game, Ambassador Zhou Jian of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Qatar will come and cheer for the children. Reporters from the People's Daily, CCTV and Xinhua News Agency will also be present. As the head coach, I'm ready. Linqi will play as the main player, so let’s hope that all the boys could fully show the style and level of Chinese football teenagers tomorrow!
Translated by Xu Miao