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Septuagenarian coach renews his career in Pingtan

en.ptnet.cn | Updated:2022-04-18 | Lin Kongbo, Stephanie

Lu Zhimin, in his seventies from Taiwan, has coached baseball in Pingtan for eight years, serving as a bridge for cross-Straits exchanges. Pingtan is the closest place on the mainland to the island of Taiwan.

Lu (right) pictured instructing a ballplayer in Pingtan

A routine baseball training session came as scheduled at the Pingtan campus of Fujian Polytechnic of Information Technology on April 10. One man stood out among the juvenile ballplayers, and his shout echoed through the field. He is Lu Zhimin.

"To second base, second base, take cover." "Focus and swing." "Assume the right position and make for the sprint." When reporters from Fujian Daily met Coach Lu, he was wearing a blue baseball cap and black sportswear. The man was tanned andshowed his passion forthe sport.

“I started practicing baseball at the age of 10 and began coaching at 24.” Lu said during the training break, “I never thought that I would go to Pingtan to coach one day, and I would do it for 8 years."

After retirement in 2014 in Taiwan, Lu believed he had extra energy to spare, so he came to Pingtan through a friend, vowing to achieve something great on the island, but life is not always a bed of roses! Lu coached part-time in several schools in Pingtan. Pingtan was a "desert" for the sport, making it extremely difficult for any career prospect, unlike in Taiwan.

With the successive rollout of pro-Taiwan policies on the mainland, his persistence finally paid off. In 2018, in a fascinating twist of fate, he received an offer from the college he was working at, and his first task was to set up a team trained for major competitions.

To start something from nothing can be overwhelming, but Lu was ecstatic about the challenge. Since then, the scenes of busy practice filled the school field. "Coach Lu would always be with us in every practice even when the hours are long," said Chen Jiajie, one of the members. Their hard work paid off. The team claimed three consecutive titles in the “Panda Cup,” a baseball championship held in the capital city Fuzhou of Fujian province from 2019 to 2021.

Over the years, they have grown into a strong contender in many inter-college competitions. “Now professional baseball games are developing rapidly, and there are numerous incentives in the field. I am optimistic about its prospect.”

Lu was aware of the shortage of professional baseball coaches in Fujian, and hiring one from outside would not be feasible. "It is always better to teach one how to fish than to feed him." To put it simply: turning players into coaches.

As of last year, 48 players have become certified coaches and 24 certified referees. Some work in local elementary schools to promote the passion for the sport among young children.

Lu calls Pingtan his second home. “Pingtan and Taiwan have a lot in common. Pingtan is a beautiful island, and living here is convenient. “

On the practice ground, Lu is a strict mentor. But off the field, he is like a family; a caring fatherly figure who cooks and buys you medicine when you are sick; a proud teacher who would hold a farewell banquet to see you off your graduation andshow concern foryour future.

"When we won, Coach Lu would shed tears of excitement. Coach Lu said that when he first came, he had many expectations for himself. But now, all he wanted is the best for us," said Liu Huihui, one of the team members touched by Lu's kindness and selflessness.

Lu is also a “matchmaker,” recommending youths from Taiwan to Fujian for opportunities. Tu Zengyou born in the 1980s is one of them. Zeng is a baseball coach in Pingtan. “I owe Coach Lu a lot for helping me in work and life.”

Walking into the baseball field, all players bow to express a heartfelt "thank you" to their coaches and the audience after training. This has become a regular practice for these youths over the years. For them, being thankful is the first and most precious lesson they have learned from Lu - their coach and mentor.

Source: Fujian Daily

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Editor in Charge:Lin Kongbo
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