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In the north coastal city, the month of October was pretty cool. The theme of the city this time of year was not barbecuing or drinking beer, but having fresh, real seafood.
"Real" seafood for local Qing people meant wild seafood that was caught in the sea, rather than artificially bred fish and crabs. The average person may not be able to tell the difference, but for those who had been born and raised here—those whose families had lived near the sea for many generations—they believed that wild seafood tasted better.
The five month long offseason for fishing had ended. There were now plenty of people around the pier everyday, buying the freshest seafood on the market. It was the busiest season for seafood dealers.
This would not last long. Every year, when the fishing offseason ended, there would be several boats out fishing. After two or three months, however, there would not be enough fish left to catch, even if they spent most of their time at sea. Over the last few decades, overfishing had caused the extinction of many sea creatures. If the trend continued, the descendants of those who had lived here for generations would have no more seafood left to eat.
"Enjoy it while you can! If you do not eat them now, we will not be able to eat them later," Zhongyi Xu said, saying what everyone in the area had been thinking.
Dai Li, on the other hand, did not pay much attention to the delicious cuisine. Instead, had himself a beer and began to express his displeasure with the situation he was in.
By the time Dai Li had finished speaking, almost all the dishes had been cleared by Zhongyi Xu. Zhongyi Xu still seemed hungry, but upon seeing that there was not much food left on their plates, he put down his chopsticks and suppressed his appetite.
Zhongyi Xu looked at Dai Li. Dai Li was now a little drunk. He looked dreadful.
"You have great resources at your disposal, why don't you use them? Zhang Xuexi took advantage of his solid connections and snatched the opportunity from you, but you could do the same!" Zhongyi Xu held up his cup and drank. It tasted spicy, and smelled nice.
"I am only an average person. I do not have any connections!" Dai Li raised up his head and looked at Zhongyi Xu in confusion.
Zhongyi Xu said, "I know about the national track and field youth program. We used to have similar programs for swimming. For the national track and field team, what matters most is not the people—it is the money!"
"Why does it come down to money again?" Dai Li answered.
"Whether it was the national team, provincial team, or a city-level team, they live off the financial allocation provided to them by the government. They can never give them the amount of money they want, but they still have to go through lots of files and evaluations before they get any funding. Every year, they have a detailed list of every dollar spent; food costs, medical costs, competition expenses, daily clerical costs, etc. Every expense has to be written on the list explicitly, then must be reported to the top. The financial department will give you the funding based on your expenses, but usually for less than you ask for. For example, if you apply for 100,000 yuan, they will probably give you 50 or 60,000 yuan."
"The Youth Training Program is a money-oriented program, and is very easy to get funding for. With this program, the track and field team can get more funding. Because training coaches is quite a long process, an excellent coach needs three to five years to train, which is why the Youth Training Program takes five years to complete, and happens once every five years. You get five years of funding every time you hold this program. Worth it, isn't it?"
Zhongyi Xu had illustrated the Youth Training Program to Dai Li from another angle. It was much clearer than Bin Lu's explanation had been. Dai Li sighed, realizing how different the information he had known about was.
Zhongyi Xu was one of the top domestic coaches, after all, and obviously knew more about what went on behind the scenes. Bin Lu, as a head coach on the youth track and field team, did not know much.
Zhongyi Xu continued speaking, saying, "The national track and field team has the right to vote for the Youth Training Program. Even though our team has chosen the nephew of Director Zhuang, if the national team decides they want you, then they have to let you go. The provincial team only has the right to suggest people for the position, not the right to make the decision."
Dai Li was still confused. Zhongyi Xu grabbed his chopsticks again and reached for the food as he said, "Don't you get along well with Jihai Ding? Why don't you use him as a resource? Call him and ask him to do you a favor—put your name on the list for the national team. You are not asking too much of him, you know; that is a piece of cake for him. Jihai Ding is your connection for this!"
"Is it really as simple as that?" Dai Li asked, suddenly sobering up.
"It is as simple as that. That is why I said you do not know how to use your resources," Zhongyi Xu continued, "Do not think for one second that Jihai Ding cannot help you out. He has a lot more to offer than fame. If you want to be a track and field coach in the future, you must be good friends with Jihai Ding.
"There are many coaches on the national track and field team, but the situation is not that complicated. The head coach, Shuren Zhao, knows a lot about theories, but he was not an experienced athlete. Because of the cultural revolution, he did not have the chance to get proper training. When the college entrance examination resumed, he passed it and became one of the first few people to attend college. There, he obtained a master's degree. He wrote many papers on the track and field exercise, which are still treated as must-reads in the academic world. Coaches like him, who have a great diploma and real insight, will not stay here for the rest of their lives. Sooner or later they will be sent to the sport bureau to become an official. It is only a matter of time.
"The second big name on the national team, the assistant head coach, Li Xue, was originally a sprinter, and held the 200-meter record. He is very experienced and professional. But he is almost sixty, and will soon retire. Although there is a way he can be hired after retirement, he will only be in charge of practicing. He will not be able to vote anymore at that point.
"Shuren Zhao will be promoted when Li Xue retires, and the members of the head group for the track and field team will change. When that happens, the sport bureau will either send us a new leader and we will select a vice leader, or we will choose a leader from our group, and they will find us a vice leader. But no matter what is decided upon, Jihai Ding will be selected from our team. Everyone knows it. That is why Jihai Ding is so influential within the track and field team."
Dai Li suddenly understood everything once he heard Zhongyi Xu's explanation.
There was a hidden social code in the organized personnel system. In order to avoid corruption or any other negative situations, the leader and the vice leader were usually in charge of two separate sectors. Meanwhile, in order to stabilize the group and avoid a situation where the new leader does something stupid due to their unfamiliarity with the team, usually teams will choose one of their own to take on the position and someone from another team.
For instance, if a new leader joined from another team, the vice leader had to be selected from the original team, and vice versa. If both were promoted and brought from other teams, they would surely know nothing about their new team, which was not good for work. It was the idea of mutual supervision or mutual restriction.
According to the hidden rules and connections, Jihai Ding would at least get the position of the vice head coach. He could even get the head coach position of the track and field team if he was lucky.
Because of this, everyone on the track and field team thought highly of Jihai Ding, or simply wanted to flatter him. If Jihai Ding was willing to give a hand to Dai Li, it would really only take a word from him to make things happen.
Thinking of this, Dai Li could not help but laugh. His bad mood had disappeared.
I see myself as a nobody. I'm surprised I actually have some connections.
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