College kids keen to make grade in women's league

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, November 16, 2021
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A team of university students is lacing up to learn from the pros when it debuts in the women's domestic league this weekend.

Comprising 16 student athletes, the Federation of University Sports of China United Team (FUSC) will go up against the 17 established WCBA franchises this season, which tips off on Sunday in a bio-secure bubble in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

Most of FUSC's players are plucked from Beijing Normal University (10), with the remainder selected from Tsinghua University, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Sichuan Normal University and China University of Mining and Technology.

In addition to their commitments on the court, FUSC players will continue to take academic classes and submit their assignments.

Liu Yutong, a senior majoring in physical education at Beijing Normal University, was called up to China's national squad prior to the Tokyo Olympics but ultimately missed the Games due to injury.

Also pursuing a double degree in education, Liu says she will strive to strike the right balance between her studies and training for the WCBA league.

"We cannot abandon our studies, but playing in the WCBA league is an opportunity that we couldn't turn down," said Liu, who recalled her excitement at being given the chance to play in the professional league.

"It's not often that we can compete with these pros, so I cherish this learning opportunity for my future development," she added.

Liu and her teammates are required to submit assignments every day, and spend up to three hours each evening receiving online tuition and fulfilling academic commitments.

"Many students are confronted with issues such as obtaining certificates and completing enough credits, and some players here have to finish their curricula online," said team leader Zhao Xing, also the director of the FUSC's projects department.

FUSC head coach Li Sunnan said that, despite not previously being familiar with each other, his players have been giving their all in training and are determined to develop a winning chemistry.

"We hope to integrate everyone into this team as soon as possible," he said. "We want to display and improve our level, and have our players concentrate on every possession in every minute on the court."

Since 2005, the FUSC has been tasked with recruiting players in preparation for the World University Games, and the United Team is likely to represent China at next year's Universiade in Chengdu.

"We have a chance of securing a medal in the women's category at the Universiade," Zhao said. "We hope to test our team through high-level competitions, and the WCBA league is a good opportunity for us to do so."

The FUSC United Team will not be ranked in the overall standings, and therefore will be limited to competing in the regular season.

"We hope that before the start of the Universiade, our players can become familiar with each other and the coaching staff can figure out specific tactics based on their characteristics," Zhao said.

Zhao reckons that the FUSC's foray into the WCBA will underline the importance of college basketball in bridging the gap between the youth and professional ranks.

"More teenage players will become aware that they can also play in the professional league while studying at university, and universities can nurture quality players as well," he said.

Liu is keen to stress that it's the whole learning experience, as opposed to results, that is the top priority for the FUSC players in the coming season.

"What we are striving for is ensuring that everyone in this team plays to their best level, and improves their overall capabilities," she said.

"The more difficulties I face, the more lessons I will learn."

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