China goes on the powerplay

By Yang Xinwei(China Daily)
Updated: 2017-03-20 07:02:32

Red Star signs partnership with national teams

China's puck luck has taken a big turn for the better.

 

Banners and jerseys were exchanged at last Friday's launch ceremony in Beijing for a partnership between Kunlun Red Star and China's national youth hockey teams. Provided To China Daily

Kunlun Red Star, the country's lone entry in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League, on Friday signed a strategic partnership agreement with the national youth teams to enhance the development of homegrown talent.

"It's a great day for Chinese hockey, especially coming on the heels of Kunlun Red Star completing a first-year miracle by qualifying for the KHL playoffs," team chairman Zhao Xiaoyu said after the signing ceremony at Beijing's Little Wolf Club.

"This agreement marks a new era for our country's hockey development."

The agreement on cooperation and joint development between the China Winter Sports Administrative Center and Kunlun Red Star will enhance the supply and use of social resources and promote resource integration and structural adjustment.

Drawing on a program based on the status of the youth teams, Red Star will offer comprehensive assistance to cultivate talent for the national Under-18 and Under-20 men's squads and the Under-18 women's team.

Training of the young athletes will be tailored to individual requirements, with an emphasis on evaluating physical strength, nutritional needs and medical considerations.

"Signing a cooperation agreement with Kunlun Red Star is a typical example of how to use social resources in sports development," said Ren Hongguo, party chief of the China Winter Sports Administrative Center.

"Such practice will ensure China's hockey development, which is encouraged and guided by the government, supported by the public and decided by the market. The sport already has a highly professional and market-oriented international profile, and China wants to be part of that."

Red Star last month announced the creation of an eight-member international advisory committee, including Canadian NHL legends Phil Esposito and Mike Keenan, who last week was named the team's new head coach.

The committee will provide advice and recommendations, along with advanced instructional expertise from North America, Russia and Finland.

Red Star is also sponsoring open tryout camps in Toronto, Boston and Beijing this summer to identify the best Chinese players in other countries. University-level leagues in Canada and the US will serve as a gauge for schooling players from the national youth teams in both hockey and education.

"This system will enhance the players' education while at the same time removing concerns of the young athletes and their parents by providing them with other options than turning professional," Zhao said.

China's U-20 and U-18 men's and the U-18 women's squad will be placed in North American leagues against comparable amateur competition.

"We want them to hone their skill level by competing in actual matches, and I believe it will completely change the national youth teams, which have been lacking in both competition and opportunities," Zhao said.

"We are honored to take up such a historic mission, and Red Star will spare no efforts in making a hockey breakthrough for China before the 2022 Olympics."

yangxinwei@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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