First NHL pick Song Andong becomes inspiration for Beijing ice hockey families

2015-07-08 08:39:30 GMT2015-07-08 16:39:30(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Beijing boy Song Andong's selection in America's NHL draft is expected to fuel huge enthusiasm for the sport in his hometown and boost the confidence of families who support their children to play ice hockey, an insider said.

Song, 18, became the first Chinese player to be picked in the draft of the National Hockey League last month.

China's famous director and filmmaker Ying Da was one of the excited parents whose sons played together with Song for years.

"A group of Beijing kids started to play ice hockey in central Beijing 12 years ago, my son and Song Andong were among them," recalled Ying, who pioneered in China's sitcom with the popular TV series I Love My Home more than 20 years ago.

"Since most of the children were born in the year of Tiger, the team was called Tiger Cubs," he added.

Song moved with his family to Toronto at the age of 10. Five years later, he went to New Jersey to play high-school hockey for Lawrenceville School before he was admitted to Philips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, another top prep school, as a post-graduate.

Song will also continue to play internationally. He's captained the Chinese team in the past two years at the IIHF Division II-B World Under-18 Championship.

Ying believes that Song's path to the world's leading league would convince many Chinese parents that even in a less known sport, their children still have the chance to rise to the top.

"Song's experiences has inspired us a lot," said Ying. "He has managed to strike a good balance between his study and hockey, which make us more resolute to support our children in this sport."

As Beijing is bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics, winter sports have become more and more popular in the country which is traditionally strong in summer Games events like weightlifting, diving, gymnastics and shooting. A successful bid is expected to further promote winter sports in the country.

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