Great job, lots of family time outweigh more money

Updated: 2012-10-25 22:27

By Tang Zhe (China Daily)

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Carlos Rodriguez has thrown himself into life in China and his goal to help popularize the sport in the nation.

The Argentine coach had his first contact with China before the Beijing Olympics, when he was approached to work on an international academy in China. Though the sides failed to reach an agreement at that time, that experience gave Rodriguez the inkling of a potential connection with the country.

"I saw I could have a very interesting role in coaching and the development of young players in China," he said. "I felt it could be an experience of both giving and also learning."

Two years later, Rodriguez brought the tennis academy he founded with Justin Henin to Beijing, and then settled down in the city with his family.

"Our life changed completely," he said. "For me it's perfect, I really like it.

"I was happy to make such a big step. It was not easy, I also had many other coaching choices in Europe, and I would have been better paid, but now I don't have to travel 40 weeks a year. This is the only position in which I can have my family with me all the time."

According to Rodriguez, his family is quite into Chinese culture. His children are learning Chinese at an international school, which mixes foreigners and Chinese together. His wife is also taking Mandarin lessons twice a week.

Rodriguez is also happy to see his academy is heading along the right track.

"The academy is running really well," he said. "We are very happy because the kids are starting to play very well. We have had some (good) international results, which is nice for us after only two years, and a lot of people from Asia and China are starting to trust us.

"We are continuing to build and maybe in one or two more years we will have something solid. It's not easy. We have good coaches, who are very expensive, we have a good environment, but still people are hesitant about joining.

"It's very new in China, we have to allow time for people to come and explore what we are doing. I think we are beginning to put our heads out in the world, but there is a lot of work to do."