MELD Magazine sports reporter Aisha Imran catches up with the Tianjin Bridgestone Women’s Volleyball Team during their whirlwind seven-day tour of Australia.
ONE of China’s top pro volleyball clubs returned home last Thursday after a whirlwind seven-day tour down under.
In Australia from October 29 to November 3, the Tianjin Bridgestone Women’s Volleyball Team visited Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, taking part in training and coaching clinics, including a best of three exhibition match against equivalent men’s teams.
Team manager Wang Bao Quan said the team exchanged valuable experiences with the Australian players and their impressions of Australia have been nothing but positive.
“It has been a very fruitful trip so far,” he said.
Volleyball is one of China’s national sports, alongside table tennis, football and basketball, and is as big, if not bigger than the footy in Melbourne.
With three players currently in the Chinese national squad, the Tianjin team trains eight hours a day, six days a week to ensure they are in peak condition, and the players range from 17 to 30 years-old.
This year, the Tianjin team came home with gold medal in eight of the nine National Volleyball League Championships in China, under the leadership of team captain Li Juan.
Li, who has been in the sport for 17 years, has also played a key part in helping the Chinese teams win gold at the 2005 Asian Championship, the 2006 Doha and 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, and was an invaluable member of China’s bronze medal team in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
But speaking to Meld in Melbourne, Li said she planned on retiring soon, and was looking forward to starting a career in coaching or teaching.