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More than 1,000 baseball players, coaches and referees from the mainland and Taiwan gathered at the final of the second Cross-Straits Student Baseball League, which officially kicked off in Shenzhen yesterday and runs through Saturday.
Co-organized by the Shenzhen Municipal Government and the Cross-Straits Baseball Exchange and Cooperation Commission, the baseball tournament is the largest individual sporting exchange event between the two sides.
Performances of traditional Chinese martial arts, modern hip-hop dance, baseball cheerleading and more earned enthusiastic applause from both the audience and players at the opening ceremony on the baseball field of Zhongshan Park in Nanshan District.
Since the first cross-Straits baseball competition was successfully held last year, the event has won widespread attention and attracted even greater interest from young students across the Straits this year.
This year, the competition has been scaled up from 32 teams to 42 teams. A total of 888 players will compete for the five age group championships. Among the teams, 20 of them, with 445 players in total, are from 10 cities and counties in Taiwan.
“We hope that through baseball, as well as a series of activities held during the competition, we can enhance mutual understanding between young people of all ages across the Straits,” said Qiu Dingcheng, coach of the baseball team at Ren Ai Primary School in Miaoli County, Taiwan.
Qiu said baseball is a very popular sport in Taiwan and that baseball exchanges between the mainland and Taiwan are a bridge for further communication between the two sides.
“We were the runner-up last year, so we want to win the championship this time. We also hope that we can make more friends from the mainland, deepen our understanding of the mainland and enhance our friendship with each other through baseball games,” said Chen Zhengyi, a player from the New Taipei Municipal Er Chong Junior High School.
Four Shenzhen school teams have entered the competition, including those from Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town High School, Longzhu School, Shenzhen University, and the Southern University of Science and Technology.
During the weeklong tournament, activities such as an evening gala for the players and a sports forum for youths across the Straits will also be held. Additionally, primary and secondary school students from Taiwan will pair up with 226 families of Shenzhen students to stay at their homes for a day and experience local lifestyles.