California Badminton Academy Grand Opening report
After years of planning and months of labor and preparation, California Badminton Academy has finally opened to the public for badminton and table tennis. CBA is the latest of a explosion of private badminton club that was sprung out in the San Francisco Bay Area.
With a area of over 35,000 sq ft and hosting 18 badminton courts, it is also the largest in the area. CBA is the brainchild of sole owner Rose Lei. Rose was part of the Chinese National Team back in the late 60 and early 70s. She trained and participated alongside many legendary player like Hou Jia Chang and Tang Xinfu.
Rose has the vision of a badminton club that brings badminton players together, fulfilling the club motto of "Strong Mind, Strong Body, Strong Skills, Strong Community." With the help of her family and many friends, she has fulfilled her dream and vision today. I can see the joy in her eyes while i was congratulating her. Her baby was born today.
During the opening ceremony, CBA invited many government officials and badminton personalities including the planning commission members, the warehouse landlord, her team of coaches Radu and Yee, as well as well known US badminton coaches like Andy Gouw and Dick Ng. However, the guest of honor for the ceremony is the legendary Hou Jia Chang. Very few people in the badminton community have not heard of Hou Jia Chang, but yet, very few has actually met him.
Hou was part of the Chinese team back in the 70s and after that, he retired and stayed in the national team as coach. His students includes other more recent legend such as Yang Yang, Han Jian, Zhao Jinhua and Xiong Guo Bao. He retired in 1993 and later moved to the US and now resides in Mississippi.
I talked to Hou briefly and found that he is a very humbled and soft spoken man. He was never boastful despite his extraordinary history and achievement in the sport of badminton. He is passionate about badminton after all these years. In the next few days, he will be conducting clinics for local badminton players in order to meet badminton players young and old.
I played a few rounds of badminton after the ceremony and managed to catch Hou conducting this evening’s clinic. At the age of 67, he no longer actively play badminton. His body simply cannot keep up anymore. However, he was very animated during the coaching session. Full of expressions and full of energy. Twisting and jumping and gesturing and posturing to show the young students the way to play badminton. It was as if a boxer stepping into the ring, stepping into the badminton court turned on his passion and energy.
To think that back 20 yrs ago, the same Hou Jia Chang who probably used the same posture and gesture to train players like Yang Yang and Zhao Jinhua in the China national team, it was quite a sight and something to ponder about.
It was a truly humbling day today to have met the legend. For a young badminton fanatic like myself who was still in diapers when Hou conquered the world, this is a lifetime opportunity.
I arrived at CBA at 2pm and I was there for a full 6 hours. I left feeling very happy for Rose to have fulfilled her dream, and I left feeling happy to have met a badminton legend. I wish Rose and CBA the best of luck in their journey and we look forward to see the next generation of professional players coming out of CBA soon.