Shenzhen, China: The inaugural LeSports Connects: The China Sports Forum brought two days of discussion and insight on the future of the Chinese sports industry.
Staged at Mission Hills Dongguan, the invitation-only event saw more than 500 guests from 18 countries enjoy 22 conference sessions involving some 60 different speakers.
Tenniel Chu, Vice Chairman of the Mission Hills Group, captured the optimistic mood of the gathering.
He said: “We have a vision to bring China to the world and the world to China. With our ‘golf and more’ strategy for growth, we recently opened our football training headquarters at our resort in Haikou and in 2017 will be partnering with FC Barcelona to grow the sport in China.
“In addition, we recently teamed up with Boris Becker to bring the world’s first Boris Becker Tennis Academy to Mission Hills in Shenzhen and in 2017 we will be launching the Becker Cup and take tennis to six cities around China. It’s a very exciting time for our business.”
Former Manchester United and Chelsea Chief Executive Office Peter Kenyon said: “First of all, China has a plan and a clear objective which puts them ahead of a lot of people who are entering the sport. They are addressing the education – football is now part of the curriculum – and China has clearly demonstrated through the Olympics that it can host major sporting events, so I’m pretty sure that between now and 2050, the World Cup will come to China.
“China has the three pillars that you need. The question now is how you fill in the rest that gets them from where they are today to the winning a World Cup in 2050.”
Beatrice Lee, CEO of Baofeng Sports International, said : “The capability and reach of social media in China enables sporting events to connect with over 1.3 billion people and is revolutionising the way in which people engage with and experience sport, and how rights-holders and promoters are commercialising their assets. I find that quite exciting.”
International footballer turned publisher Rio Ferdinand said: “The Chinese Super League is taking players in their prime now – that’s a big difference. These players that are capable of playing Premier League football and Champions League football. These are people who can leave a legacy in the same way that Zola, Lampard, Bergkamp and Cantona did in the EPL and have a huge effect on the next generation of players. They are coming for the right reasons, to play football and to improve.”
Ma Guoli, Vice Chairman of Le Sports, said: “The key to developing sport in China is time, and if you look at what the likes of the NBA has achieved in China, it didn’t take place overnight. The industry needs to invest in the long-term growth of sports in China and if we take soccer as an example, the focus needs to be on juniors, equipment, the coaching and the development of Chinese players for the future.”
Jasper Donat, Chief Executive Officer of event organiser Branded, said: “We have been privileged to listen to and learn from some of the most highly regarded personalities in the sports sector, who shared their perspective on the future of the Chinese sports industry. LeSports Connects: The China Sports Forum’s debut has been a great success as both a business conference and networking event and we look forward to coming back to China next year.”
Birmingham, England: The PGA of Great Britain & Ireland is inviting all those who work or volunteer in golf to join its new membership groups – the Business Management Group and Club Volunteer by PGA.