Town­ship build­ing rep­u­ta­tion as ma­jor base­ball hub

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By QIU QUANLIN in Zhong­shan, Guang­dong qi­uquan­lin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

In the Pearl River Delta, Dong­sheng town­ship was pre­vi­ously best known for man­u­fac­tur­ing of­fice fur­ni­ture and its fish­ing in­dus­try, hav­ing greatly ben­e­fited from China’s pol­icy of re­form and openingup since the 1980s.

How­ever, in the past 10 years, the 75-square-kilo­me­ter town­ship with a pop­u­la­tion of about 174,000 has be­come bet­ter known for its lead­ing po­si­tion in China’s devel­op­ment of base­ball, with more than 500 stu­dents from its 20 schools in­volved in the sport.

“We al­ready know that base­ball should be played in schools and we have been con­sis­tent in our ef­forts to pro- mote the sport among lo­cal stu­dents,” said Feng Xiao­long, chair­man of the Zhong­shan Base­ball and Soft­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

The town­ship was in the news in early De­cem­ber when six young lo­cal play­ers were in­cluded in the Chi­nese na­tional U12 team to com­pete in the Ninth Asian U12 Base­ball Cham­pi­onship.

“The cham­pi­onship, a flag­ship event held by the Base­ball Fed­er­a­tion of Asia ev­ery two years, has greatly helped pro­mote the sport in lo­cal schools and com­mu­ni­ties,” Feng said.

“From pri­mary and mid­dle to high schools, we are build­ing a train­ing sys­tem cov­er­ing all ages of stu­dents. We are glad to see that a ris­ing num­ber of par­ents and chil­dren have de­vel­oped an in­ter­est in the sport,” Feng added.

The plan of de­vel­op­ing the town­ship into a ma­jor base­ball hub was not made over- night. Dong­sheng has a long tra­di­tion as­so­ci­ated with the sport.

Dong­sheng, in Zhong­shan, Guang­dong prov­ince, is the birth­place of Liang Fuchu, who was in­flu­en­tial in bring­ing base­ball to China in the early 20th cen­tury.

Liang, widely re­garded as the fa­ther of Chi­nese base­ball, cre­ated the Panda Cup in Shang­hai in 1939. Liang’s team re­ceived wide at­ten­tion af­ter beat­ing in­ter­na­tional gi­ants of the game, in­clud­ing the United States, Por­tu­gal, Bri­tain and the Philip­pines.

His son, Liang Youwen, then-82 years old, re­turned to his home­town and be­gan coach­ing a lo­cal teenage base­ball team in 2007.

“Since then, we have been build­ing the town­ship into a ma­jor base­ball hub within China,” Feng said.

To pro­mote the sport, the lo­cal gov­ern­ment and the base­ball as­so­ci­a­tion launched an an­nual teenage tour­na­ment called Panda Cup in 2011 in mem­ory of Liang Fuchu.

“The in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment has played an im­por­tant role in en­abling young lo­cal play­ers to pro­mote ex­changes of the sport with their over­seas coun­ter­parts,” Feng said.

Ac­cord­ing to Feng, a 2,000ca­pac­ity in­ter­na­tional youth base­ball sta­dium has re­cently been con­structed in the town­ship.

“We are ex­tremely happy to be able to play base­ball af­ter class and be­come friends with in­ter­na­tional play­ers,” said Yun Yongteng, 11, a na­tive of Dong­shen and a mem­ber of China’s U12 base­ball team. Yun started play­ing the sport at age 8.

QIU QUANLIN / CHINA DAILY

Chi­nese player Yun Yongteng, 11, from Dong­sheng town­ship, pitches a ball at the 9th Asian U12 Base­ball Cham­pi­onship held in Zhong­shan, Guang­dong prov­ince.

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