Soccer, that foot sport you may remember from elementary school gym class, is an excellent way to meet people in China. There are a couple of reasons for this: you don’t have to speak Chinese to play it, and, unlike table tennis or some of the card games, it’s a popular game that you know how to play.
The hardest part, which is actually pretty easy, is finding a game. Ask some of your (male) colleagues, students, or neighbors if they have a regular pickup game that you can join. (Note: If you’re a woman, they may find your request a little odd, since soccer is, like, so brutal. But don’t let that stop you!) If they don’t have a game, or you don’t want to play with them, try heading down to a nearby university or park on the weekend and hanging out at their soccer fields. When you see a group of friends with a ball, ask to join their game. It’s a request that’s pretty easy to make with body language if your soccer Chinese is sub-par: join the warm-up circle and see if they let you in.
Once you’re in the game, everything should go pretty smoothly. Keep in mind that, as in the US, some players take their games super-seriously, while others are more like your little brother and will tackle their friends. Go along with it, and enjoy your new hobby!