Rural brothers chase basketball dream in NW China

Xinhua, September 05, 2023
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After receiving a pass from his brother, Yang Baiqiang swiftly dribbled forward and netted a stunning buzzer-beater, securing Ningxia's victory in the "CunBA" semifinals of the northwestern region on Wednesday.

This win ensures his team, comprised of amateur players f

Financial constraints led Yang Baiqiang's elder brothers to leave school early, taking on various jobs to aid their family. Yet, their ardor for basketball never waned.

Amid their busy schedules, the duo found time to practice, joining the village basketball team. Together, they spearheaded the team to numerous victories in village-level tournaments.

Their exceptional skills didn't go unnoticed. In 2019, the local government upgraded their dusty court to a cement one and installed standard basketball hoops.

With improved facilities, Yang Baiqiang, the youngest, embarked on a more promising journey. He joined his school's team, underwent formal training in middle school, and later attended Henan Polytechnic University as a student-athlete. Post-graduation, a local firm hired him as a semi-pro basketball player.

"Basketball has been a life-changer for me," Yang Baiqiang expressed, adding profound gratitude to his brothers for introducing him to the sport.

Over the years, Yang Baiqi, now a father of two, transitioned to a bench player role, offering court-side guidance to his younger siblings. With extensive training, Yang Baiqiang and Yang Baizhong have fostered a strong court synergy.

With their challenging days behind them, the brothers now aim to inspire more children with the dream of basketball.

In 2018, they initiated a basketball training program, offering expert coaching and summer accommodation. Their prowess attracted many urban students. Children from impoverished families are exempt from training fees.

"The course is not about making money, but about cultivating basketball talent for our hometown and passing on our passion for the sport," said Yang Baiqi.

Reaching the national finals brings the brothers a step closer to their basketball aspirations. They eagerly anticipate competing on China's premier village basketball platform in Guizhou.

"It's an honor to represent our hometown in the competition," Yang Baiqiang stated. "We will keep pushing boundaries and strive for the best result in the national finals."