Yao: ‘Sports can teach chil­dren virtues’ not learned in class­rooms

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By SUN XIAOCHEN in Shang­hai and ZHENG XIN in Luzhou, Sichuan prov­ince

Bas­ket­ball icon Yao Ming said he thinks his pres­ence in a pop­u­lar re­al­ity TV show could draw more at­ten­tion to chil­dren’s all-round de­vel­op­ment through sports ac­tiv­i­ties.

En­ter­ing the en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness has be­come trendy for re­tired ath­letes to stay in the pub­lic eye, but that’s not the case for Yao, de­spite his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the hit re­al­ity TV show Where Are We Go­ing, Dad?.

The show, which fea­tures trips of fa­thers and chil­dren set au­di­ence records in the first sea­son and be­came a na­tion­wide sen­sa­tion fol­low­ing word that Yao would par­tic­i­pate in the up­com­ing sec­ond sea­son.

In typ­i­cal low-key style, the for­mer NBA All-Star plays down his role in the show and said he sees it sim­ply as pub­lic­ity high­light­ing the im­por­tance of phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in child rear­ing — a con­cept that he ac­tively pro­motes through var­i­ous char­i­ta­ble ini­tia­tives and phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion events since his re­tire­ment in 2011.

“I hope to send out a mes­sage that sports can teach chil­dren many virtues that they couldn’t learn in class­rooms, and to in­flu­ence more people to pay at­ten­tion to chil­dren’s all-round de­vel­op­ment,” Yao said af­ter a char­i­ta­ble event at Shang­hai’s Zilu­olan Pri­mary School on Thurs­day.

The event was part of the Yao Foun­da­tion Hope Pri­mary School Bas­ket­ball Sea­son, an an­nual char­i­ta­ble pro­gram that or­ga­nizes stu­dents in un­der­priv­i­leged ar­eas to par­tic­i­pate in a two-month bas­ket­ball train­ing camp where they learn the virtues of team­work, lead­er­ship and so­cial­iz­ing. Char­ity event

This year’s event, which kicked off in late April, has ex­panded to 80 pri­mary schools across China and has so far en­cour­aged more than 151,500 stu­dents to com­plete the two-month stretch, dur­ing which col­lege vol­un­teers teach bas­ket­ball skills.

“Our aim is to teach chil­dren to take part in sports, not to train bas­ket­ball talent for pro­fes­sional teams,” said Yao, who has been bounc­ing be­tween his roles as a busi­ness­man, bas­ket­ball club owner and char­ity pro­moter since 2011.

Shrug­ging off the

foot in­jury that led to his re­tire­ment, Yao ran up and down the court with stu­dents in a mini-ex­hi­bi­tion game against an­other team led by NBA star for­ward Ni­co­las Ba­tum of the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers.

Ba­tum joined forces with Yao as an am­bas­sador of NBA Cares, the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s global com­mu­nity out­reach ini­tia­tive that ad­dresses so­cial is­sues such as ed­u­ca­tion, fam­ily de­vel­op­ment and health. He echoed Yao’s sen­ti­ment that sports re­ally mat­ter in chil­dren’s de­vel­op­ment.

“It’s big. When you are young, play­ing games like bas­ket­ball and soc­cer can give you op­por­tu­ni­ties to do a lot of things to open your life,” said the 25-year-old French­man, who en­tered the NBA in 2008. Con­tact the writ­ers at sunx­i­aochen@chi­nadaily.com.cn and zhengxin@chi­nadaily. com.cn

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Yao Ming talks to pri­mary school stu­dents dur­ing a char­i­ta­ble event at Shang­hai’s Zilu­olan Pri­mary School on Thurs­day.

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