Shanghai Sports: MELODY Basketball Club
MELODY Basketball Club founder Virginia Zheng tells us how she created an outlet for Shanghai’s amateur female ballers.
Why did you found MELODY women’s basketball in Shanghai in 2004?
I started MELODY because I wanted to continue playing basketball after graduating from high school, but could not find a platform to play in Shanghai. In desperation I started one myself.
Have you found that interest in Shanghai among local women has been growing since you first founded the league? What about among expat women?
Yes, compared to ten years ago, there has been a great increase in the number of amateur female ballers in the city and in the country, with similar clubs and teams popping up in other cities as well. The interest in playing basketball for expat women has been consistent for the past 10 years, due to the difference between the physical education system
abroad and China (when compared to locals), and we have a few foreign players in our teams.
What has been the most difficult thing for the club as it has grown and evolved?
The lack of acceptable and reasonably priced indoor basketball courts within the city center has been the most difficult thing for the club as we continue to develop and expand.
Why is the club named MELODY? Is there a meaning behind the name?
I am a fan of the Taiwanese singer David Tao and love one of his songs, “Melody.”
Why do you think it’s important for girls growing up in Shanghai to be involved in sports?
Participating in sports is important for girls growing up in Shanghai (actually, anywhere around the world) not only because it’s good for a healthy body and mind, but also because it builds hand-eye coordination.
Participating in sports (especially a team sport like basketball) also teaches girls from a very young age many life skills which they will use as they grow older. These include self-discipline, interpersonal skills, team work, respect for others, sportsmanship (handling life obstacles through losing games), being committed and reliable, self-confidence and time management skills.
Could you elaborate on the meaning behind your slogan, “your presence makes a difference”?
I believe every female athlete who shows up to participate in sports adds something to the team she devotes her time to, whether she is a player, a volunteer, an official or a spectator. It takes a lot to commit to a team sport and I like the idea that we appreciate everyone who shows up on court and commits for training, a game, an activity, a tournament or a trip.