Sports / Hockey

Youth participation boost for Beijing 2022

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-17 08:19


Youth participation boost for Beijing 2022

Boys play hockey in a game organized to promote the sport in Beijing. Zou Hong / China Daily

The promotion of youth hockey in Beijing has made excellent progress in the past two years, with more than 10,000 students from about 60 schools learning about the winter game and attending training sessions, according to the Beijing Hockey Association.

At the beginning of 2014, inspired by the city's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, the association launched a series of on-campus promotional events, including lectures on hockey history, demonstrations of equipment, training clinics and tours to watch games.

The promotion, aimed at raising awareness of the little-known game among young Chinese people, was funded and supported by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Social Work and the Beijing Sports Federation as a charitable program.

During an event at Beijing's Shijia Primary School in April, hundreds of students attended an interactive lecture during which Beijing Hockey Association officials and former athletes shared their knowledge of the sport and the Winter Olympics in general.

Xing He, an executive with the Beijing Hockey Association, said Chinese children's growing interest in the Western sport is evident. "Many schools have approached us for hockey lessons and training sessions. We have been short of hands to cater to the rising demand," he said.

"Despite having reached out to 60 schools, it's not enough, so we are recruiting and training more college students as volunteer promoters to help expand the outreach of the program in the next phase."

Since July last year, when China was awarded its second Olympics Games - Beijing hosted the Summer Games in 2008 - the country unveiled an ambitious plan to involve 300 million people in winter sports in the next six years.

The widespread participation of children in Beijing - highlighted by the expansion of the Beijing Hockey Association's junior leagues - signals that the country is on course to reach the goal.

Under the umbrella of the BHA, a record 116 club teams, featuring 2,000 children, registered to participate in the Beijing Minor Hockey League's 2015-16 season, which concluded last month.

That's a far cry from the league's inaugural season in 2008, when fewer than 20 players represented just four teams.

To maintain exposure to the sport on campus, some schools, such as Shijia Primary, have introduced hockey as an elective course on their physical education curriculums.

The Shijia Hurricanes, the school team, was invited to compete in the ninth annual Lighthouse International Youth Hockey Tournament in New York in January. The team finished as runner-up, the best-ever result for a Chinese squad at the renowned tournament.

Zhang Jing, a former women's national team player who was hired by Shijia Primary to coach the school team, expects the on-campus promotions to boost the game's appeal to children.

"Back in my day, only a limited number of children were selected to receive hockey training in Northeast China's provincial sports system. Now, with more schools embracing it as part of the curriculum, I believe more children will fall in love with this cool sport," she said.

Youth participation boost for Beijing 2022

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