Today was the final day of our regular competition before the exhibition match-up against the Chinese National B team tomorrow. It was a day of recognition and treats by our local hosts from Xiangyang. All of the teams started the day early as we all headed back down to the arena for a special ceremony.
All four teams had a public appearance with local fans, kids, and dignitaries. There were dancers, youth soccer teams, youth martial artists, and plenty of speeches. Jalana or “J” as we call her gave a great speech on behalf of the American squad and we all received lovely gifts from the tournament organizers and the city, a case of spicy pickled turnips for each of us! The Kiwi’s all got up and sang their song together.
We were then driven out to the country where we enjoyed a special meal at an establishment that had the appearance of a Chinese Temple and had a nice garden area in the center of the courtyard.
Each team had their own special room and were served “traditional Chinese foods on a spinning table.” In the States we call it a “Lazy Susan,” but this was easily the largest I’d ever seen. They did their best to fill it up with about 15-18 different dishes. Much of it was the “local flavor” of food. Something we thought most of our group wasn’t going to eat much of, but surprisingly, we ate a little of everything that was brought out… we just left the roosters head alone that was on the cooked chicken dish.. It was loads of fun for the whole group.
This roadside Dragon sculpture is about 40-50 feet tall.
With the heavy traffic around town we had our own police escort to the game…and all that did was make the driving just a little bit crazier!!!
Tomorrow’s much anticipated exhibition game with the Chinese National B team should be interesting and provide a lot of excitement. It’s the final match of the entire trip!
You can read Coach Ryan Johnson’s blog from this link. There are some great pictures of the areas visited in China as well as more game info.