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11 September 2019 | in FISU University World Cup - Football

University World Cup - Football unveiled during title sponsorship event

JINJIANG, CHINA — Before the big show with Portuguese football legend Luis Figo headlining the team draw of the Kelme 2019 FISU University World Cup - Football event, the morning's title sponsorship ceremony set the tone for the day.


During the event an adorably furry wolf also shared stage time with local university athletes sporting the competition kits of the 24 teams coming to the inaugural University World Cup finals.


Figo, the 2000 Ballon d’Or winner and 2001 FIFA Player of the Year, said this tournament had him reminiscing about his roots in the beautiful game.


“I’m thankful you invited me to your hometown,” Figo said. “I think this tournament will become very well known, both in China and around the world, and help develop football along the way. I’m happy that Kelme is connected to this important part of football — university football. This will allow so many kids to follow their dreams. So many kids, so many students, they love football.


“Now they have the chance to play in this kind of international tournament,” added Figo. "Everything that is connected to grassroots opportunities and talents, I’m always happy to support because it’s through the grassroots of the sport that one can hone their talents. I wish all the teams and players the best. I hope you have fun, and you have the chance to get to know a new country, in this case China. So take this chance and show your football talent on the world stage.”


Following the ceremony’s opening words from Yan Qiang — the voice of Chinese football — Paulo Ferreira took the microphone on behalf of international university sports movement. The FISU Director General remarked that it was the city of Jinjiang’s passion for sports, particularly football, that led to it winning hosting rights for the first four editions of this biennial tournament.


“It’s a pleasure to be back here in Jinjiang. You have excellent facilities and have prepared well to put on this event,” Ferreira said. “I am sure the players at the University World Cup - Football will appreciate your efforts. We hope this event can inspire today’s stars to become tomorrow’s leaders.”


Figo echoed Ferreira’s comments on the city having the potential to being a hotbed for China’s developing football players.  “You have a modern city with a historic past that is improving and growing so fast. There are a lot of top companies in the region. And there’s good weather — that’s a potent mix to start this event and develop football.”


On an earlier tour through the city's historic centre, Figo also pressed the vice mayor to bring a football academy to town.


Yanqing Xue, Vice President of the Federation of University Sports of China, expressed his feeling on the event’s arrival. “China has always attached great importance to popularising and developing football programmes. I believe with Jinjiang hosting the University World Cup - Football more and more students will participate in the sport and fall in love with football.”


In front of a standing-room-only crowd, event mascot Jinganglang made a grand appearance on stage, dribbling a football with his paws. Local organisers say they chose the animal because it reflects the city’s animal spirit; a wolf has a fighting spirit, but also knows the value of working within a team.


While the man with 127 international appearances from Portugal’s golden generation of footballers stole the show early on in the programme, the ceremony ended on a fitting note under electric stroke lights and pulsing music with a collection of international university students studying in the region sporting the competition wear of the 24 teams coming to Jinjiang.


“Enjoy the game, enjoy this event, and enjoy your time here,” Figo said in his closing words to the participating student-athletes. “Through football, you can discover the world.”