Posters  | Videos       Games  |  Soccer Mags      Books  |  New! for 2002!  

Sunrise in the West

 - China's Dynamic Soccer Trio -

                                                                                  By Gerard Robbins

During the preparation of any major sporting event, the athlete is in a constant struggle to remain focused. One's attention must be fully committed to the task at hand. This sometimes means the denial of  the press, friends and even loved ones in order to achieve and more importantly maintain a certain level of focus. In many instances the elite athlete must be removed from his/her environment, transported to a training camp where distractions are by environmental design  are keep at a minimum.   The resulting attitudes expressed can sometimes be a mistaken for callousness or aloftness. Even the snooping press are kept at bay not permitted allowed to speak with the athletes until scheduled intervals.   You can thus image this writer's thrill to be giving the opportunity and privledge of interviewing China's three top players just before the start of the Women's World Cup.  Players who remained in a training camp for nearly a year prior to the commencement of the games. With the assistance of Team Secretary / Interpreter Tracy Lu Ting we were able to get a glimpse into the lives of three of the most gifted athletes in the world, Goa Hong (Goalkeeper), Liu Ailing (Midfielder) and the incredible forward Sun Wen. I discovered each player to be genuine human beings void of any pretense, arrogance, or false pride. real "down to earth" folk.  So relax, take a sip of your coffee and enjoy these interviews conducted with three of China's "Campeones de La Cancha".

Gao Hong is not only the goalkeeper for the Chinese national soccer team but an inspiration and driving force behind the team. Her goalkeeping skills are second to none and are a combination of the flare of a Jorge Campos with the patience of a Walter Zenga. Many consider her to be the best goalkeeper in the world. Born on 11-27-6,7 Gao  Hong is a member of China'a Guangdong Club. She has participated in two previous World Cups as well as being part of China's team which recently won  the 13 Asian Games in Bangkok Thailand. After her competitive day have passed Gao would like to live in American and become involved in the development and growth of a women's soccer league. Ironically Gao has been a guest goalkeeper instructor at one of US Coach Tony Di Ciccio's goalkeeper camps.

                          Interview with Gao Hong

Q: How old were you when you began playing soccer and why did you choose this sport.
A: I began playing at 18 years of age. It was not my choice, for me to play soccer was decided by other persons.

Q: Who made the decision for you?
A:  When I worked at a factory, the boss decided that I should play for the factory team.  

Q: How did you end up playing for the national team?
A: I first played for the factory team, then went to the city team. After that I had an opportunity to play in the national games and then I became a player for a professional team. After participating in the national games, I was selected by the current coach to start on the China national team

Q: How many people participated in the selection process with regard to national team selection.
A: The current coach Coach Ma choose me from a total of 40 players

Q: Did you play in the previous World Cup in 1995?
A: Yes I did

Q: What do you believe are the strengths of the United States team?
A:  The USA is one of the best teams in the world. It is well respected throughout the world. The professionalism that they show at the games particularly there extreme aggressiveness (of play) is what impresses us greatly.

Q: What do you believe is the USA's weaknesses?
A:  The aggressiveness that is shown by the team just lasts for a short time. The depth (of aggressiveness) does not last from the first minute to the last minute. They appear to get tired as time goes on.

Q: Is there any player that you admire most in your country for example and then in the world.?
A: I admire my teammate Sun Wen who is also the captain of the team. She is a very talented player. As far as the world I admire the goalkeeper of the Netherlands male national team

Q: Who do you believe will be the strongest opponent in this competition?
A: I believe that my biggest opponent and.anyone's toughest opponent  for that matter is one's self.

Q: What do you do in your spare time when you are not playing soccer?
A: Well I am either traveling or reading.

Q: What do you enjoy reading?
A: Almost anything.

Q: If you had a message for the USA team what would it be.
A: I realise that this is now a very critical time for the USA team. I know the team is burdened with the mission of developing women's soccer in the USA   So we (China) can understand how much pressure the USA team is under right now. We realise that the development of women's soccer in the USA will definitely excellerate the speed of  women's soccer world wide. So I sincerely wish them success in that regard.  I would just like to say good luck to Tony Diccico because he is one of the persons that I admire the most.

Q: Would you ever consider playing professional soccer in the US.
A: Not as a player but, after the development of a professional women's league here in the states I would like to work with the league. I would like to [generally] learn more about soccer in the USA.but for now I would like to return to China.

Q: Do you have any message for the children that will view this article worldwide via the internet?
A: I encourage children to play soccer because playing soccer on the field as a child will be one of the most meaningful things in their lives.  The experience children gain through soccer is something that that can carry with them for their entire live. 

Q: Will you read La Cancha on the internet.
A: Maybe someday (laughter).


Liu Ailing is China's star midfielder.  Although she wears the prestigious #10, she can often be mistaken for a forward. Born on 5-2-67  and a veteran of two World Cups as well as the 13th Asian Games  in Bangkok, Liu is the senior member of the Chinese national team.  It has been said that Liu like another famous #10 (Pele), has an amazing ability to sense where each player is positioned on the field throughout the course of the game. Her flexibility and blinding speed enable her to blast past defenders and score, using either leg. She is also a superior playmaker able to see several moves ahead  In China she plays for the prestigious Beijing team.

                         Exclusive Interview with Liu Ailing

Q: How did you began your career playing soccer or were you chosen to play as was Gao Hong?
A: I started playing for fun and one of the women soccer coaches picked me out during my childhood

Q: What has playing soccer done for you . How has the sport impacted on your life?
A: It has really changed my life.  Being a soccer player brings me lots of happiness and glory.  I have had an opportunity to do many things that common girls [such as myself] are unable to do.

Q: Are you married and how does soccer fit into your married life?
A: I just got married recently however for the past two years I have had to concentrate on the big events such as this World Cup.So it has been difficult.

Q: As you will  have participated in three (3) World Cups what would you say was your most exciting moment except of course getting married (laughter)
A: The Olympics held here in the United States in 1996 was a very exciting moment. I really enjoyed the crowd and the excitement

Q: What in your opinion is the most significant strength and weaknesses of the USA team?
A: They are a very active aggressive team however it's hard [for me] to say what there weaknesses are.

Q: What do you consider to be the most significant strengths of you team?
A: We are very flexible and have very fast speed.

Q: How many hours a day do you practice, and are you on any type of special diet?
A: We practice around four hours a day and eat common food.

Q: What is your favorite  food?
A: Baked or roasted duck.

Q: Have you tried Mc Donald's here?
A: Mc Donald's is so so, but I really like Pizza (laughter).

Q: How significant is it that children becoming involved in this particular sport.
How do you see children benefiting and would you encourage your own child to become involved?
A: It is very difficult for a kids to play soccer in China. However if I did have a baby girl and the environment [in China] was like the one here in the USA I would encourage her to play. However it would depend on the interest of the baby. But for boys, I would definitely encourage my son or any boys to play soccer.

Q: Is there a difference in playing on your league team in China as opposed to the national team?
A: Playing for the league team the goal is to improve one's team record and ranking. . But when you play for the China national team it is a different feeling because you are representing your entire country.

Q: Is there anything that you would like for the world to know upon reading this article?
A: I wish that people world wide would give more support to the development of women's soccer.

Q: Do you have a favorite soccer player male or female.
A: I would have to say that I admire Michele Platini specifically for his level of awareness during play. But I must say that I really don't admire any female players [laughter].

Q: What has soccer given to you.
A: Thanks to soccer I have had a chance to travel all over the world. It is not something as I said that every girl can do. Soccer  is not only a physical experience for me. It has also been a spiritual and psychological experience.  It has taught me how to look at winning and losing. This experience is actually a growth process.  When you are at the very early stages of your career you generally pay more attention to just winning the game.  You really want to win. But now as a veteran I concentrate on the process of winning. So in this case during the game I adjust my psychological and mentality. This also decreases nervousness. 


Sun Wen is one of the most remarkable female players that China (if not the world) has ever produced. She has incredible vision and awareness. Combined with tremendous skill and almost superhuman speed she is able to leave defenders standing in their tracks as she races to the net to score with either leg.  With her back to the net she is able to turn, pass or shoot to score with unrivaled accuracy.  Many has stated that her ability far eclipses that of the America's Mia Hamm who has scored more international goals than any other player on earth.  Wen who speaks both Mandarin and English would like to become involved  in a women's league when it is established in the US. A fan of American music particularly Whitney Houston, Sun Wen is willing to sing a few lines of "I'll Always Love you" if asked at the right time.

                            Exclusive Interview with Sun Wen

Q:Why did you choose to play soccer?
A: Well I have a very active personality and I like to play  soccer for fun. My daddy's a soccer fan so in the beginning I received enthusiasm for the sport from him.  He always watched the men play soccer so always being with him influenced me with regard to choosing and playing that sport..

Q: Which men's team did you admire the most besides China and why?
A:  I admire England's national team because of the method of play. The English Premier league is fantastic to watch for soccer fans. The way they play is very simple and practical. It is a very enjoyable to watch English teams.  My favorite premier league team is Manchester United. The performance of Manchester United as a team is actual better than the performance of the English national team.  When I did an interview prior to the men's World Cup I predicted that England would win.  On the other hand, Brazil's individual player skills are very strong.  The Brazilian style of play is very gentle not so aggressive.  The Brazilians place so much emphasis on skill.  In terms of the performance of individual players I admire the Brazilians. Rivaldo is my favorite as well as Roberto Carlos. I particularly enjoy watching his [Roberto Carlos's] free kick  It is similar to my own. [laughter].

Q: On a more serious note, what do you consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of the USA Women's national team?
A: The USA Women's team is a very strong, attacking team. The speed of each individual player is very fast.  It's is also a very self confident team. They have so many strong points however their strength shows in their attack.

Q: How do you believe China will beat the USA this time?
A: It's the coach's business not mine to think about that. What is important to me is to focus on my performance during the game. Winning or losing is not as important as remaining focused. That is my concern.

Q: What do you do in your spare time when you are not playing soccer?
A: There is nothing else but soccer. [laughter]

Q: What do you believe are the benefits of children playing soccer.
A: I believe that children should begin at a very early age. I started playing when I was 11 and at 13 began standard training.

Q: How do you handle the fame of being one of the best players in your country and in the world.
A: First of all, this event is not so popular in China. The excitement here is much more than in China. I really admire the crowds and the children that come to the games here in the USA for a woman's soccer game. Those kinds of crowds don't exist for the women's game in China.

Q: What do you believe it will take for the woman's game to become more popular in China and the world?
A: This 3rd World Cup will have a profound impact on the development of women's soccer. So many people are watching the games on television. This will help the sport greatly. The fans in China  [and the world] will know how popular the sport is here in the USA. In essence I believe that this 3rd World Cup will excelerate the rate of growth of the sport on a world wide level.

Q: What is the leading women's league team is China why is that team the most successful?
A: The leading team at this time is Shanghai and the reason is it the leader is because I am on the team [laughter].

Q: Is there a difference for you in playing on your league team as opposed to the national side.
A: The pressure for me is basically the same. Shanghai is where soccer is most popular for women's soccer.

Q: What is your educational background.
A: I have attained a degree in language, specifically Mandarin and I am attempting to gain my masters degree. However due to competitions I have had to delay my studies. After my playing career, I will resume my studies. I would like to study here in the USA.

Q: Do you have any message for the USA team and in particular your counterpart Mia Hamm?
A: Are you sure Mia will see this website? [laughter].

Q: Yes, I think so.
A: Hi Mia ...we will meet at the finals game of this World Cup.  We too (China) have very good performers at this World Cup. I would like to extend  you and your country a sincere greeting on behalf of my country.

* In the final analysis, China has won two of the last three matches played against the USA. This World Cup will thus be another chapter of the fierce struggle for women's soccer supremacy.  No matter who wins on July 10th, you can be certain that both teams are true World Cup champions.

A this time, La Cancha would like to express it's deepest appreciation to Team Secretary/ Translator Tracy Lu Ting  for making the above exclusive interviews  possible.

  Go Here For Main Page  |  E-Mail us with your comments & suggestions!

Main| Soccer Sites | Products | E-Mail  | ADD YOUR SITE!

Women's World Cup Videos

99 Women`s World Cup Final - USA v China

Relive this incredible match as the best two teams
in the world put on a great display of attacking soccer
in front of over 90,000 fans.
Click here for Info & to Order

99 Women`s World Cup Quarter-Final - USA v Germany

A tense and exciting game as the USA come from behind
twice to beat the strong and resolute Germans.
Click here for Info & to Order

99 Women`s World Cup Semi-Final - USA v Brazil

Perhaps the most entertaining and well played match
of the tournament. Only a late penalty allows the USA
to escape the magical skills of the Brazilians
Click here for Info & to Order

All the Goals of the 99 Women`s World Cup
All 123 goals of the 1999 Women`s World Cup.
See them all from different angles in this action
packed exciting video.
Click here for Info & to Order

Champions of the World - 99 Women`s World Cup
The USA story. Relive the excitement from the opening
match to the final penalty shootout as team USA wins
the Cup in front of the home crowd.
Click here for Info & to Order