New Year Tip-Off Camp participants from China pose for a photo in front of the Spurs championship trophies at the AT&T Center. They waited on buses, sang songs out in the cold, stood in lines and listened to speeches in a different language, but 48 young smiles endured Saturday at the AT&T Center.
The surroundings were foreign to them but also the reason this group of 8- to 12-year-olds from China and their chaperones traveled halfway around the world this week to San Antonio, where they will remain until the end of next week.
They come from rural and impoverished parts of Gansu province in north central China to take part in a weeklong basketball camp and educational visit hosted by Spurs Sports Academy. The children of all skill levels will receive three days of private instruction before joining a group of 40-50 San Antonio kids in the New Year Tip-Off Camp starting Jan. 2 at San Antonio Christian School. The Chinese youths arrive at the AT&T Center. It’s not the first time the Spurs have hosted a group from another country for a basketball camp, but this is the largest group so far and the visit coincides with a significant date in the relationship between China and the U.S.
Tuesday brings the 40th anniversary of the United States and China officially normalizing relations Jan. 1, 1979, seven years after then-President Richard Nixon made his historic visit to China beginning that process.
Four decades later, the two countries are at odds when it comes to trade and other issues but have much in common such as the world’s two largest economies and a love for the NBA.
“We want to learn about culture here and bring that culture back to China because the American sports industry is more mature than what is in China,” trip organizer Leo Xie said through interpreter Xingping Liu. “We want to learn from American and learn from NBA culture. We also would like to invite American children to visit China and learn about culture in China.”
Xie works with the nonprofit Gansu Aesthetic Education Promotion Association and Future Sifang Group, […]