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Yao giving kids a boost

Updated: 2015-02-04 07:54
By Wang Zhenghua In Shanghai (China Daily)

Yao giving kids a boost

Former NBA All-Star Gary Payton shows off his Chinese calligraphy skills during a meet-and-greet with young players and fans at the winter camp of the NBA Yao Basketball Club in Shanghai on Monday. NBA China

In an indoor court at Shanghai's Yuanshen Basketball Park, 13-year-old Tian Yuke and a group of other children were practicing sliding, dribbling and defending, coached by former NBA point guard Gary Payton.

Although icon Yao Ming was looking on, the children actually showed no timidity at all - they even had the 7-foot-6 former NBA All-Star pass them the ball for close-in shots.

"I believe my daughter learns a lot from attending this camp," said Tian's mother, after they traveled thousands of kilometers from Yunnan province. "As long as she can harvest joy, I would like offer her the opportunity."

The winter camp, the first training session launched in Shanghai by NBA China and the NBA Yao Basketball Club (formerly known as the NBA Yao School), kicked off on Monday.

The progressive 12-day training program, which provides basketball and fitness training for boys and girls of all skill levels, is led by NBA-selected international coaches who have extensive experience in basketball training and youth development.

Participants attend comprehensive training sessions focusing on key fundamentals that cover both individual and team concepts. Students will have the opportunity to participate in games and organized team competitions to learn the NBA Yao Basketball Club core values of teamwork and fair play.

"I think we saw what we had expected today, the fun and basketball," said David Shoemaker, CEO of NBA China. "The NBA Yao Basketball Club is about promoting the game in a fun and exciting environment for kids. They all had fun today."

The 34-year-old Yao, who has been juggling his roles as a businessman, CBA club owner and charity promoter since 2011, has his own notion about training kids.

There should be more training programs of different forms to develop basketball education among young people, he said.

"When we talk about a basketball player, or an athlete of any sport, people may deem it as an independent occupation. But as a matter of fact, the sport should be a part of overall education, especially for kids at this age," Yao said.

The traditional basketball training programs usually target children from 6 to 16 years old, but they should cover more age groups, he added.

"The basketball youth development should not be decided by the clubs or schools. It should be more extensive."

Since its launch in February 2014, the NBA Yao Basketball Club has provided students with the opportunity to meet and interact with NBA players and legends visiting China.

Dallas Mavericks guard Rajon Rondo, along with former stars Horace Grant and Glen Rice visited the camps in Beijing last year to provide specialized instruction on basketball techniques and share the joy of learning new skills with the students.

Payton, the only point guard ever to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and widely considered one of the best of all time at that position, said he was more than happy to help coach children in Shanghai.

"I have been in Shanghai a lot but it's my first time with the Yao club. He called me and asked me to be part of it," Payton said.

"We want kids to have fun, and that's what Yao wants to do too and that's why he is involved in a lot of things.

"I would be more than happy to come to China any time Yao wants me to coach or do whatever, just to help these kids understand the basics of basketball."


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