Plymouth Raiders have reached a landmark partnership agreement with one of China’s biggest basketball academies, the Beijing Falcons, and become the first BBL club to forge such a connection.
With basketball now the biggest team sport in China, and with a western education high on the agenda for many Chinese families, the Raiders strong local educational partnerships with Plymouth Marjon University, City College Plymouth and Plymouth College provides Chinese students with a host of options for studying and continuing to play basketball in the UK.
In addition, the partnership with the Raiders, which will see the Falcons’ branding featuring at all Raiders’ home fixtures, which will allow their Academy and brand to continue to grow in Beijing and across Asia as a whole.
Raiders’ Director, Richard Mollard said, “I am delighted to be able to partner with the Beijing Falcons, and am incredibly excited at the potential this partnership holds.
“We’ve been in discussions with the Falcons for most of the summer in reference to numerous ideas, such as educational study opportunities, international camps and the potential to work with them on highlighting the opportunities for British teams to tour to Beijing on cultural basketball trips, and the more we discussed, the more benefit we could see in forging a formal partnership.”
Beijing Falcons’ Founder and Director, Hui Tu, who visited Plymouth in June, said “This is a great opportunity to partner with the Raiders, and by doing so we will build a bridge between China and UK in professional and grassroots levels of basketball.
“It also creates another tunnel for our players to reach out to a professional level of basketball and an opportunity for Chinese players who want to play and study overseas.
“After visiting Plymouth during the summer, we are absolutely attracted by this beautiful City and we are looking forward to the projects we are going to set-up here along with the Plymouth Raiders.”
Plymouth is seeing a surge in popularity as a study destination for Chinese students, and with the Raiders’ ever-expanding educational partnerships, there is an untapped opportunity for Plymouth to be seen as the UK’s number one destination for basketball loving Chinese students.
Plymouth already has a large Chinese population, with over 13,000 residents, and there are a number of local community groups, including the Devon and Cornwall Chinese Association, who work closely with key organisations across the South West to promote positive working relationships, and create a culture of mutual respect and understanding.
Richard Mollard added, “It was our pleasure to welcome Hui to our beautiful City in the summer, and I have had the fantastic opportunity to also visit the Falcons in Beijing to finalise this agreement.
“Beijing is a phenomenal City, I was made to feel incredibly welcome and I could not be more impressed with the basketball programme operated by the Falcons, which has over 700 members, and recently included an expansion into Taipei.
“Hui and I have already held exciting conversations about many things, including the potential of a pre-season tour to Beijing and our hosting an international camp next summer at Plymouth Marjon University for example, as well as bringing over teams and students to study, enjoy our local culture, and of course, get their basketball fix.”
The passion for basketball in China soared thanks to Shanghai born basketball superstar, Yao Ming, who made the move from the Shanghai Sharks to the Houston Rockets in the NBA in 1999, and went on to become a five time NBA All-Star, as well as being elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
Since his retirement he has continued to champion basketball in China and was unanimously elected as the Chairman of the Chinese Basketball Federation in 2017, where the sport continues to grow under his leadership.
The Raiders will be back in action at the Plymouth Pavilions on Sunday 20th October at 3pm, where they will meet the Worchester Wolves, and tickets can be purchased at www.plymouthraiders.com.