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How a hockey coach dribbled past hurdles and scooped a dream goal

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-08-13 11:06

Hockey is popular among children in Jingyuan.[Photo provided to China Daily]

The rigor of championships, and the reputation of over 20 athletes in provincial and national teams, keep driving Sun Jiangang's dream to promote hockey among the youth.

The 45-year-old coach has led the Sports School of Jingyuan County, in Northwest China's Gansu province, from nothing over a decade ago to national champions.

"In 2008, when I became the coach, the school lacked basic gear for the game, except for hockey balls and sticks," Sun says, adding that the campus team also had to practice on a basketball court.

To make matters more difficult for Sun, parents wanted their children to focus on studies, which meant the selected players could only practice hockey after school hours and on weekends.

"I tried to ease the concerns the parents had and persuade them to encourage the kids to play," he says.

The team of ragtag players that Sun cobbled together in 2008 went on to participate in national youth hockey championships for more than a decade and won three titles since 2009.

The all-round development of the players has been inseparable from the improvement of local hockey facilities. Three 6-a-side hockey fields and one for an 11-a-side game have been built in Jingyuan county since 2008. The number of hockey coaches in the school has increased to four.

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