Former NBA player Yao Ming said his dream is to propel sports culture as he showed up on Sunday to fulfil his new role as a member of China's top political advisory body.
"The Chinese dream starts from each person's own profession. My dream is that sports can become more than a way of winning our nation's glory, but a way to cultivate robust bodies and inspiring minds," said Yao Ming.
The 2.26-meter-tall star was newly elected as a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
He admitted he felt some pressure at the new job being recently added up to his already-heavy roster of endeavors after retiring as a professional basketball player with the Houston Rockets.
His basketball career ended when foot, ankle and knee injuries forced him to retire in 2011 and concentrate on a string of successful nonprofit and business enterprises.
"My basketball career has ended," Yao said, "but I will continue to push forward sports development."
Yao voiced his concerns about inadequate levels of exercise being taken by students, saying, "Chinese teenagers are not daring to practice long-distance running and strenuous exercise out of safety concerns, but the fears will inevitably bring about weakening physiques."
Another incentive behind his dream comes from the harsh reality for Chinese athletes after retirement.
Some have blamed the country's punishing training system for the current woes, saying that the set-up does not adequately prepare pro athletes for their post-retirement lives.
Yao said the country has provided support in the form of reemployment chances and training foundations, though the efforts are still far from adequate. "It takes time," Yao said.
He considers encouraging sports participation among students the stepping stone for interaction between the sporting elite and ordinary people.
"Athlete needs more cultural education while students require more physical exercises," said the basketballer.
As for the specifics of the proposal that he has handed to the conference, Yao talked no more than to say it was about basketball game organization, stressing the details will not be disclosed till the official announcement.
Besides covering his familiar ground of basketball, Yao talked about his work in the form of an "ambassador" as the vice chairman of the Shanghai Public Diplomacy Association.
"Soft power," as people refer to public diplomacy, is an effective channel for expanding a nation's influence and enhancing cultural communications, Yao explained.
Loaded with different jobs, Yao said he will stick to each role and try his best.
"The political advisory body has garnered elites from every walk of life so I can learn great from them," Yao said, adding that he will "seek endless progress."