From China to the Okanagan, Yuyao He has always felt at home on the ice playing hockey.
After immigrating to Lake Country in 2016, Yuyao was quick to continue his passion after being introduced to hockey in China when he was 5 years old.
He joined Kelowna minor hockey just a year later, and has been loving the game, and the city, ever since.
“He has a great love of ice hockey. He watches various ice hockey videos on YouTube almost every day. He has all kinds of knowledge, and can name many ice hockey stars, their team and achievements,” said Yuyao mother Lijuan Zhu.
Lijuan Zhu has fully embraced the “hockey mom” role since coming to Canada; buying a net for the garage so Yuyao can practice shooting after school and enrolling him in local programs with Kelowna’s Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy and the Okanagan Hockey Academy.
Now, at 10-years-old, Yuyao, along with his team the Kelowna Predators, celebrated one of their biggest victories this past season when they won the 2019 Atom Showcase Championship. Yuyao scored four games in the tournament which helped secure the victory.
Lijuan Zhu said that she thinks Yuyao is the first player from China to win a minor hockey competition in Kelowna, and said that Yuyao’s team and coaches were happy he was on the team.
While coming to a new country and learning the ins-and-outs of a sport has had it’s difficulties, Lijuan Zhu said it’s been important that Chinese youth are getting involved in local sports.
“It is very good, because (it lets) the people of Canada understand the development of China’s ice hockey,” she said. “Through (Yuyao’s) competition and training, his coaches and teammates know the popularity of ice hockey in Chinese. (It) promotes the ice hockey in both countries’s development and cooperation.”
“He was able to achieve such brilliant results, because of his active and serious training, as well as the unique hardships of the Chinese nation,” said Lijuan Zhu.
Yuyao plans to continue to play hockey for his new hometown team in Kelowna.
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