Brad and Lucas Barron
Originally from the US, the Barron family has been living in Beijing for four years. It is 11-year-old Lucas’ first time living overseas.
His dad, Brad, was always an outdoor guy. Growing up beside a forest called Tyler Arboretum in Media, Pennsylvania, he often walked and hiked in the woods. He also sailed with his own father and participated in school sports such as tennis, soccer, skateboarding, and skiing.
After Lucas was born, Brad encouraged him to be active from a very young age – but not necessarily in a structured way. “Young kids aren’t going to react well to long spells of [physical activity],” he says.“It’s about exposing them to sports in a fun way.”
After the Barrons moved to Beijing, Brad even built a half pipe in the backyard so that he and Lucas could skateboard together. Surprisingly, few of Lucas’ friends have actually used the ramp. “It is pretty scary if it’s your first time,” says Brad.
Lucas currently does soccer, football, basketball, ice hockey, tennis, swimming, and snowboarding. The family also hikes together, and Lucas and his mom Kimberly Tenai frequently go on mountain biking trips.
When it comes to safety, Brad thinks that parents tend to be more risk-averse nowadays. “Life is a game of risks – as long as you take the right precautions,you have to just go for it.”Tenai is quick to add that “[they]have never pushed him to do something outside his comfort zone – it just so happens he has a very big comfort zone.”
Lucas has to balance sports with school work and other commitments like music. “Most of the sports I do with Dad are on the weekend so I can focus on school and music during the week,” he says.
Every Sunday, father and son do kung fu together. Their teacher has said that while Lucas is getting stronger, Brad is getting weaker. “The effects of age – but I don’t mind,” jokes Brad. Kung fu is great for strengthening the core, which in turn helps Lucas’ snowboarding.
Though Lucas doesn’t need anyone to drop him off at school, his dad always does – even on his days off. Brad cycles while Lucas either skateboards or rides his bike. The elder Barron says he cherishes this time with his son; the two of them can chat about everything and nothing.
The family’s active lifestyle extends to the way they approach holidays. From snowboarding in Japan to surfing in Bali and trekking in Tibet and Laos, these experiences have been challenging at times.
“Sometimes we get tired, cranky, and physically exhausted. The trekking was really tough,” says Brad. So how do they refocus? “We talk about Minecraft!” they exclaim simultaneously. “It’s how we continue to forge our father-son ties,” says Brad. “We’re making memories together,” adds his son.
In Beijing, smog can be an issue, as many of the sports they enjoy doing together are outdoors. However, the benefits of living here still outweigh its disadvantages. “We’re definitely more adventurous now because it takes so long to get anywhere,” says Brad. “I believe that this sense of adventure will stay with us when we return to the US.”
For example, Lucas participated in this year’s International Schools Snowsports Championships China (ISSCC) at Wanlong Ski Resort. Students from several international schools competed in skiing and snowboarding events, with O’le Ski instructors providing training. Lucas took goldin both the Snowboard Giant Slalom and Snowboard Dual Slalom events. Needless to say, Dad was very proud. “He was so fast, it was amazing,” he says. “The whole experience was just brilliant.”
Does Lucas see himself taking up sport professionally? “Maybe. Who knows? I’m just having a great time right now,” he says. Whatever he decides, you can be sure Dad will be right there beside him.
Darrell and Jordan Barnes
The Barnes family moved to Beijing from Gloucestershire, UK in 2004. Dad Darrell Barnes has been involved with Sports Beijing since arriving in China – first by coaching the soccer program, then joining the management committee in 2007, and finally becoming director in 2011. His wife, Karen McBride, is the HR director for Beijing International Bilingual Academy (BIBA). They have two children: 12-year-old Tazmin and 13-year-old Jordan, both students at BIBA.
Sports have always been part of Darrell’s life; as a boy, he played league cricket in Hampshire and coached teenagers in soccer in the UK before work obligations got in the way. However, Darrell knew he wanted to coach again – an opportunity he was able to pursue once he had a son of his own.
Jordan has played with Sports Beijing Football Club (SBFC) in their development program for seven years. Prior to that, he was in their recreational program for two years. At over 400 matches, he has the distinction of playing the most games for SBFC of any age group. In that time, Jordan has scored more than 150 goals.
“When I started the coaching with SBFC, the reaction of the kids was interesting at first,” says Darrell. “Being the coach and also Jordan’s dad, they probably thought he’d easily get on the team. But with 16 overseas tours, he had to perform at his very best to prove he was good enough. Once the other kids could see that, there was never any issue.”
It’s a tough schedule of training and tours, but the experience has been rewarding for both father and son. “We’ve visited some amazing places together,” says Darrell. “When Jordan was younger, his mum came too, but now it’s just us. I love the time we have together.” Jordan agrees. “I think we have a strong relationship because of that,” he says.
Jordan now helps to coach the younger players. He smiles when he talks about challenges such as teaching a 4-year-old how to pass a ball, but he also has great fun doing it. “He has something special, the way he works with the little ones. It’s super to watch,” says Darrell.
In addition to soccer, Jordan also swims and plays tennis. It can be difficult to juggle sports and school work; the most time-consuming is swimming, which takes place three times a week. However, both father and son agree that physical activity is vital to a person’s overall health and sharpness of mind. “Fitness leads to better concentration at school, although Jordan could go to bed a bit earlier,” jokes Darrell.
The older Barnes has coached many kids over the last ten years. Forty-five students have gone on to play professionally for football clubs such as Bayern Munich and the US Under-14 Boys’ National Team. “It’s given me enormous satisfaction, changing kids’ lives through sport,” he says. “More than that, it has meant time with Jordan – seeing him grow into a confident young man has been fantastic.”
The Barnes are moving back to the UK this summer, but sports will continue to play a huge part in their lives. “We’ll probably give cricket and rugby a go,” says Darrell. When asked to describe in three words what sharing sports with his dad means to him, Jordan says: “Relationship, family, and confidence.”
Mon-Fri 10am-6pm (office).2/F, Lido Country Club, 6 Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang District (6430 1370) www.sportsbj.org 朝阳区将台路6号丽都饭店丽都乡村俱乐部2层
O’le Sports 奥莱体育
5 Shimencun Lu, BaiziwanQiao Dong, DongsihuanZhonglu, Chaoyang District (Pete Tupper: 186 1846 1002, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.ole-sports.org 朝阳区朝阳区东四环中路百子湾桥东石门村路5号
Photos courtesy of Brad Barrons and Darrell Barnes