For William Lo, it’s a tool for change. In his non-profit project that aims to help talented underprivileged Chinese girls, he is using basketball to better their lives and further their education.
For Asian girls, pursuing sports like basketball can be challenging. Societal pressures, cultural barriers, and lack of resources often stand in the way of their dreams. In this article, we will explore the barriers that Asian girls face in sports, particularly basketball, and how William Lo’s project is breaking down those barriers, one basket at a time.
BASKETBALL HAS ALWAYS BEEN A BIG PART OF MY LIFE
I was born and raised in Hong Kong until I was 15 years old and went to school in New Jersey. My mother is from New Jersey and my father is from Hong Kong.
Basketball has always been a big part of my life and I was able to play at a Division 3 level. After college, I came back to Hong Kong and started “Strive” — a strength and conditioning facility mainly for basketball players looking to become better athletes. I did that for 6 years and then in 2019, we decided that it was time to expand into basketball training, as well as strength and conditioning to have a holistic training facility where basketball players could do basketball and fitness in one facility. I have been the Managing Director of Strive for almost 10 years.
THE GOLD TEAM
Our non-profit project, run by my wife Angela and I, is called “The Gold Team.” It’s a scholarship program where we help mainly talented and underprivileged Chinese girls, starting at ages 13-15, utilize basketball as a vehicle to further their education and better their lives.
We want our girls to be shining examples of what Chinese women are capable of on and off the court. Even if they don’t get the opportunity to play professionally, they could use the lessons they learned in the Gold Team and can move on to the next part of their life.
Gold Team is an elite training program, so we train 6 days per week on the court, 3 strength and conditioning sessions per week, and we also average 1 or more games against older women or boys.
We sign an agreement with all of our players and parents outlining what we will do for the girls and what is expected out of them. We also have a minimum GPA that we expect the girls to keep.
We believe in developing world-class players, students, and citizens at the same time. I take care of the basketball and training part, my wife Angela who was a much better student than I, monitors their grades closely.
CHALLENGES AND BARRIERS TO BECOME A SERIOUS ATHLETE
A lot of the challenges we see come from parents not understanding the point of why someone would want to become a serious athlete. I constantly hear “You can’t make a living on it so why spend so much time on it?” This is very common in our society and a lot of people do not see the value of how sports add value to a kid’s life mentally, emotionally and of course physically.
Another objection that I get a lot is the unwillingness to look outside of Hong Kong for bigger possibilities for basketball. Since there is a significant portion of Hong Kong people that have never traveled outside of Asia, they may not be aware of the possibilities of sports scholarships in countries such as the US, Canada, or Australia. I’m hoping that as we get more and more girls opportunities to play in the NCAA and other countries, this will change.
THE ROAD TO CHANGING ONE PLAYER’S LIFE FOREVER
Yannie Chan, who won Conference Player of the Year, is the first locally schooled Hong Kong girl in our city’s history to play in the NCAA, so that alone instilled a lot of hope for girls in our city. There will be more coming out of our program in the coming years!
In the classroom, we also have a girl who is now one of our best players — I got her when she was 13, she had a terrible track record at school and was ready to drop out and become a part-time waitress. I told her that in order to join the Gold Team she had to have a certain GPA. She immediately went to her teacher the next day and asked for tutoring, which left her teacher in shock! She has gone from a 2.5 GPA to a 3.4 GPA in 2 years. Now she has opportunities to play at prep school level in America. Her family is on government subsidies and now she is on the road to changing her life forever.
SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR CHINESE WOMEN ATHLETES
Men are often the first priority over women when it comes to sports. This is true, especially in our part of the world. However, after years of observation, I am very bullish on Chinese women’s sports. We have some of the best athletes in the world and girls who can compete with any country. Chinese women in the world cup are a perfect example coming in second after the US. I believe that if given the right opportunity, time, and love, the sky’s the limit for Chinese women athletes.
I want to also prove to parents that sports do, in fact, have a lot of value in the development of kids. Putting your sole focus only on studying is definitely not the way to developing a well-rounded adult in the future. If you are a great athlete and a great student, it opens up a lot more doors for you than only being good in the classroom.
Finally, as an Asian basketball player, I was not given a lot of respect just because of the color of my skin. Basketball in America is not an Asian-dominated sport and we need to be extra tough and extra skilled in order to earn that respect, which I’m totally fine with. I want to make a statement to the world that Asian players, when given the opportunity, can be just as good as anyone anywhere in the world. I firmly believe that.
THE GOAL TO SHOOT FOR SUCCESS
My goal is to be able to travel with the girls multiple times per year around the world so that they can play against different competitions, learn about different cultures and see the world.
This June, My wife and I raised around 40-45,000 USD to sponsor 9 girls to come to the US and play on the AAU circuit (Amateur Athletic Union). Hopefully, with this trip many of our girls will be recruited to play in college.
SPREAD THE WORD
We are trying to change Asian sports and if you have any interest in knowing more you can contact me anytime. email@example.com