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Richmond forum fosters sports ties with Chinese athletes

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Former Olympians and top coaches from China will attend a public forum at Lipont Place on Friday evening

A forum that aims to help connect Chinese and B.C. athletes and coaches will take place in Richmond on Friday.

Former Chinese Olympians, coaches of Olympic and Asian Games champions and professors from China’s top sports universities will attend the 2023 Vancouver Pioneer International Sport Education and Culture Forum at Lipont Place at No.3 and Cambie roads.

“Our goal is to discover more outstanding retired athletes and coaches in China, and give them an opportunity to come to Canada so they can use their expertise to enhance the sports levels of local younger children,” said Ray Li, co-founder of Pioneer Sports, organizer of the forum.

As a retired soccer player from China, Li said the sports system in his home country is very different from the Canadian system.

In China, promising youngsters are selected at a young age and sent to state-funded training centres, where they receive rigorous training programs and are prepared for international competition.

This has created a very competitive sports environment for Chinese athletes and those who don’t rise to the top may retire at a young age even though they are at a very high level.

“Canada really values sports training and there is a large number of Canadians, especially children and teenagers, who practice sports, so there is the need for more professional coaches,” said Li.

“We could bridge them and bring another option to the table by introducing more athletes from China.”

Although Canada is leading globally in winter sports, it is not as strong in summer sports games. So, athletes and coaches from China, which has ranked top three in the summer Olympics since 2000, can help provide high-level training to a wider variety of sports, said Li.

Meanwhile, more Chinese students who like sports can visit or study sports that Canada is strong in, such as hockey, he added.  

“We are still at a very early stage and that’s why we are having the forum, to discuss the feasibility of the idea, and whether it will have a positive impact on the children who are into sports and on the society,” said Li.

The forum will take place 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 29 at Lipont Place and is open to the public. 

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