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Canadians first foreign players in China’s professional volleyball league

Cuba's Salvador Hidalgo (left), joins Canadians Frederic Winters (middle) and Steve Brinkman (right) as the first foreigners to play in China's professional men's league
Ottawa, Canada, November 6, 2012 – This Sunday, Canadian national team veterans Fred Winters of Victoria and Steve Brinkman of Bowmanville, Ontario, will be among the first three foreign players to compete in China’s men’s professional volleyball league.

Winters and Brinkman signed this fall with BAIC Motors, a professional club based in Beijing. The squad finished fourth last season and has bolstered its squad this year with the two Canadians and Salvador Hidalgo of Cuba.

“So far the experience has been great,” said Brinkman, who has played more than 200 international matches with the Canadian national team, from Beijing. “There are some obstacles to adjusting to life in Beijing but nothing major. It’s much easier with my family (wife and two children) and Fred and his girlfriend here as well.”

The Canadians are going into Sunday’s opening match unclear exactly what calibre of play they will face.

“It’s hard to tell just how good teams are in friendly matches,” said Winters, the Canadian national team captain. “The Chinese players are good at what they do. However they are not accustomed to expanding their methods in training or in games. So we are bringing a fresh look.”

“It may be not on par to most European leagues but there some strong teams,” added Brinkman.

For BAIC Motors, the decision to recruit overseas was done for one reason only: to dethrone the 10-time defending champion squad from Shanghai.

“The message was made very clear to us that we are vying for the championship,” said Winters. “It’s a lot of pressure, but the club has slowly brought us along so there is no feeling of panic. They’ve really helped us adapt to Chinese life.”

The league will run until February with two matches scheduled each week.

“I could see this league filled with foreign players and coaches in years to come,” said Winters. “I think this is just the beginning of a very strong and powerful league.”

Click on the following links to see where other Canadians are playing volleyball around the world:

http://www.volleyball.ca/sites/www.volleyball.ca/files/National Teams_Equipe Canada/IndoorWomen_IntFeminin/ProteamsWOMEN12-13(1).pdf


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