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Picturing the future
of croquet in China

by David Openshaw
President, World Croquet Federation
Posted November 23, 2008

Video clip of Pro-Am and exhibition matches shown on Chinese network
China's first croquet exhibition, story and pics from the Hurun Report

October 2008 was the 30th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping's rise to power and China's "Open Door Policy," credited with launching the Asian giant's market-friendly economy. With the rapid emergence of China's affluent class, the establishment of first-rate croquet facilities appears inevitable - and the sooner, the better. The World Croquet Federation and Jaques equipment manufacturers were invited to Shanghai to help plant the seeds, at a glitzy conference showcasing China's diverse luxury market of today and forecasting an even more prosperous 21st Century.

This is the first of what I hope will become a series of reports on the development of croquet in China, along with a pictorial record of some of the activities at the Shanghai conference hosted by the China's "Hurun Report" this fall.

Most of the croquet games and exhibitions were done on the polo field at the Nine Dragons Polo Club in the final two days of the conference.

You will see that the lawns we played on - though superb for polo - were not quite up to croquet's MacRobertson Shield standard. But that did not stop us showing croquet to quite a number of important and influential people. It didn't stop us, either, showing that croquet can be great fun.

Amir Ramsis and spectators at the demostration match at the Polo Club.

Our prominent press coverage included about two full minutes on the National Sports News Channel. I haven't heard what the audience figures were, but I can well imagine that it was the highest figure for croquet ever. (See this clip of the coverage.)

David Openshaw being interviewed for CCTV5, the national sports channel.

The major possibilities we discovered for introducing croquet in China are to hotel owners, sports club owners, and residential property companies. In addition, there are three more specific opportunities. Firstly, one company is interested in hosting/sponsoring a world class event. The second opportunity is to have some croquet on show at the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010. The third opportunity is to have four croquet lawns built at a school in the area in China recently devastated by a killer earthquake, now being rebuilt.

Despite the global economic crisis, China's wealthy class will likely continue to expand at a brisk rate. This pyramid shows the extent of that private wealth at the end of 2007.

If the China school croquet lawns project is to go ahead, we will need to raise a considerable sum of money from individuals within the croquet world.

Behind the hospitality tent, guests at the Nine Dragons Polo Club could try croquet at their leisure. The lawn was continuously thronged with first-time players trying their hand with the Jaques equipment.

This first official visit to China has been a learning process for the World Croquet Federation in how to promote our sport. We will be exploring all the opportunities that present themselves and concentrating on developing the most promising.

A pro-Am event after the demonstration game featuring Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman of Hurun Report; and Sinclair Lu, President of the Hurun Report

On a personal note, I have learned skills that will help give me a running start on my next visit to China, not the least of which is the ability eat fried eggs with chop sticks.

David Openshaw, Amir Ramsis, Khaled Younis and Haiyan He of Jaques with her daughter pose for a picture at the dinner.


Khaled Younis in play.

This video shows the exhibition match between Egyptians Khaled Younis (three-time world champion) and Amir Ramsis. Shown later is a Pro-Am match between Khaled and Rupert Hoogewerf vs Amir and Sinclair Lu, President of Hurun Report. Rupert Hoogewerf, fluent in Chinese, is the person being interviewed as Chairman of Hurun Group who invited us to China and to whom we will owe a great debt for our success there. Rupert is a keen garden croquet player who has played in the UK at the Southwick Club in Sussex.

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