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Chinese Girl to Pursue Hoop Dream in Korea

Posted February. 18, 2009 09:00,   


A 6’6” (198 cm) Chinese girl in the eighth grade is moving to Korea to play professional basketball.

Tzu Wan Yen, 15, has signed an endorsement deal with the Shinhan Bank Ansan S-Birds of the Women’s Korean Basketball League. Tzu is unfamiliar to Korean basketball fans, but they do know her 6’5” (195 cm) mother Sui Chun Mei.

Sui played on the Chinese national team and in the Korean pro league from 2000-02. She is now coaching a basketball team in China’s Hubei province.

They are the first foreign mother and daughter to play in the Korean women’s league in succession. Tzu will move to Korea early next month and start training here. She will stay in the team dormitory in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province.

Tzu plans to enter middle school and start playing in high school.

After graduating from high school, she plans to obtain Korean citizenship when she becomes eligible after living here for at least five years, and then go pro.

Shinhan will pay all of her costs, including tuition, rent and living expenses until her professional debut. This is the first time for a Korean pro team to invite a promising foreign national to the country and foster her for both the team and the national squad.

Tzu is still growing, as she grew four to five cm last year alone. She played in a basketball club, and is physically balanced and fit for the sport.

By bringing her to Korea, Shinhan has secured a future asset, while Korean women’s basketball also stands to benefit. Tzu has never played for the Chinese national youth team, and thus can play for Korea once she becomes naturalized as a Korean. Along with 6’8” (202 cm) Ha Eun-joo, 26, Tzu could form twin towers for the national team.

Tzu and her mother were first invited to Korea by Shinhan last summer, but signed the contract after carefully inspecting her accommodations and gymnasium in a three-day visit last month.

The mother apparently judged that Korea rather than China will be better for her daughter to develop into a basketball player.

Tzu said, “I will work hard to learn basketball and the Korean language from senior players in Korea, and hope to become the best player in this country.”