The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has named Yao Ming as its new president.
The retired National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar becomes the first non-governmental person to assume the role at the association, which was founded in 1956. He won by a unanimous vote at the CBA’s ninth national congress.
Yao stated that he wants “urgent reform” and the 37-year-old hopes to improve the domestic league's draft system and push more Chinese players into the international arena in order to strengthen the country’s national team.
“At the moment, the most urgent matter is the reform of the CBA, which we must set on a virtuous cycle that will increase our influence and vitality, and bring new ideas to the fore," said Yao. "The biggest problem is that there is no 'biggest problem'. The problems are everywhere. I believe this is a common thing to encounter in the process of reform."
Yao was recently appointed - along with CBA vice president Li Jinsheng - as the co-head of a transition team to prepare for the presidential election. However, there was a groundswell of support for the former Houston Rockets star to apply for the role of president. China’s sports minister Gou Zhongwen was particularly vocal in his support for the NBA Hall of Famer.
Last year, global basketball’s governing body Fiba appointed Yao as an ambassador for the 2019 Basketball World Cup, which will be played in China from 31st August to 15th September 2019.