Published: 02:52, February 26, 2024 | Updated: 17:19, February 26, 2024
Ex-sports stars laud opportunities GBA offers for industry
By Atlas Shao in Macao

Hui Ruoqi, a former captain of the Chinese women’s national volleyball team, share her thoughts with China Daily on Saturday on the development of the sports industry in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. (Photo by Li Xiang / China Daily)

Sports industry leaders attending the inaugural GBA International Sports Business Summit say they’ve detected the sports industry’s development potential in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, with abundant passion among young people for sports.

The summit, held in the Macao on Friday and Saturday, was graced by hundreds of industry practitioners from the Chinese mainland and overseas in a bid to explore the business opportunities in the Greater Bay Area.

Speaking to China Daily on the sidelines of the event, Hui Ruoqi — a retired volleyball player who was the captain of Chinese women’s national volleyball team between 2013 and 2016 — said she’s optimistic about the development of sports in the region, stressing that the sector can help cities like Hong Kong and Macao drive their tourism businesses.

Hui had visited Hong Kong and Macao several times with her teammates to participate in tournaments, such as the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix. She said she could feel the people’s passion for volleyball on each of her visits to both cities.

After retiring, Hui launched the Volleyball Amateur League — a nationwide tournament aimed at cultivating talents and promoting the sport, which has attracted many players from Hong Kong and Macao. “Every time we start a registration process (in Hong Kong and Macao), the quota would be quickly filled up,” she said.

Hui found that Hong Kong and Macao have a huge number of volleyball fans, with about 500 amateur volleyball teams in Hong Kong, and 200 in Macao. “The atmosphere in sports and volleyball itself is strong here.”

The two cities also have many advantages in promoting sports events, with well-organized sports associations that can mobilize resources and manpower for such events quickly, she said.

The former volleyball star also noticed the high social participation rate in sports in the Greater Bay Area. For instance, a friend who teaches volleyball in Hong Kong told her that almost every student can play one or two types of sports. “Such popularity of sports in the Greater Bay Area should encourage other places to follow suit.”

Hui said she aims to promote public welfare activities through sports. She recalled she visited to a nursing home in Hong Kong once and interacted with the elderly there through volleyball, creating a happy atmosphere. She then discussed with her team how to use diversified interactions in the future, including visiting orphanages or nursing homes, to try to make people closer through volleyball.

Dwyane Wade, a former star with the National Basketball Association’s Miami Heat, shares his thoughts with China Daily on Saturday on the development of the sports industry in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. (Photo by Li Xiang / China Daily)

Dwyane Wade — a former US basketball star who played on three National Basketball Association championship teams while with the Miami Heat — also attended the summit and conducted a training and exchange session with coaches and students from Macao schools.

He told China Daily that one of the reasons he went to Macao was to seek the opportunity to grow the game of basketball.

Wade, who has organized personal commercial tours of the mainland for several years, has a cooperative brand called “Way of Wade” with prominent mainland sports label Li Ning. During the interview, he said young people are important in sports branding, and his Macao tour will be great for the brand and to connect with fans. He also said he had a “great time” visiting Hong Kong last year.

Wade said he’ll visit more mainland cities in the future to spread his love for basketball as much as he can.

Li Xiang contributed to this story.

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