A group of students from China's Tibet Autonomous Region set out from Lhasa on Friday to kick off a sports tour in Beijing organized by the Samaranch Foundation.
The eight middle school students from Damxung County, located in the north of the regional capital Lhasa, will visit the Bird's Nest (the Beijing National Stadium) and Water Cube (the National Aquatics Center), which is to be transformed into the Ice Cube in order to host the curling events for the Beijing 2022 Winter Games. Afterwards, the group will take training classes with professional football coaches from Spain.
"I started playing football in primary school. Now I'm little nervous but excited about the journey. It's my first time to leave my hometown," said sixteen-year-old Tenzin Phuntsok, whose parents raise yaks on highland pastures, adding that the place he wants to visit the most in Beijing is the Bird's Nest, which has become a symbol of the Chinese Olympic dream.
Tenzi, along with his fellow students, were selected from more than 60 candidates, all of whom are from remote regions in Tibet. The tour they are about to take is a part of "Free Football For All," a project launched by Samaranch Foundation in 2013. In order to promote football and the country's new national fitness program, the project has organized football training for young people in grassroots football leagues across China.
Samaranch Foundation was founded in 2012. It is named after former International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch.