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A Victory Against Discrimination

For the week of Monday, May 25, 2015

"Those players won more than a trophy. They broke down barriers, they won respect for their community, and they left a legacy that continues to this day."

– Robert Yip, son of forward, Quene Yip

On May 29, 1933, the Chinese Students Soccer team won the Mainland Cup; the trophy of Vancouver’s Men’s First Division soccer league. The team’s victory brought a welcome celebration at a time when Chinese-Canadians faced constant discrimination.

The Chinese Students Soccer team after winning the 1933 Mainland Cup
© British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame

Formed in 1920, the Chinese Students Soccer team was an all-male youth squad from Vancouver’s Chinatown that mistakenly joined the city’s adult First Division after their sponsor registered them in the wrong league. The opposing players were bigger, stronger, and more skilled than the Students. However, the young players made the best of a challenging situation. Their skills quickly developed because of the competition their new opponents provided. The Students team would celebrate many victories over the coming years.

The Students' games were well-attended by members of the Chinese-Canadian community, since they provided temporary relief during the economic devastation of the Great Depression and times of general racial discrimination.

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A team photo of the 1924-1925 Chinese Students Soccer team
© C.B. Wand / University of British Columbia / Rare Books & Special Collections / Chung Collection / CC-PH-00061

The 1933 season was one of the team’s best. They made it all the way to the championships for the Mainland Cup. In the final game, the Students faced the heavily favoured University of British Columbia varsity team. With only minutes left on the clock, the teams were tied at three goals each. Then, in front of thousands of spectators, Jack Soon of the Chinese Students scored the winning goal.

The Chinese Students players were celebrated as heroes by their community. After their triumph, many of the players went on to blaze further trails. Dock Yip became the first Chinese-Canadian lawyer. William Lore, the team’s vice-president and treasurer, was the first Chinese-Canadian to serve in the Royal Canadian Navy and helped liberate Hong Kong by releasing Canadian prisoners of war from their Japanese captors in 1945. Ghim Yip became one of the first Chinese-Canadian doctors trained in Canada, and Tong Louie became the President of H.Y. Louie Ltd., owner of London Drugs. Long after the team was dissolved, Quene Yip, a star of the 1933 team, was inducted into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, followed by the rest of his team in 2011.

Vancouver’s Chinatown is a National Historic Site. To learn more, please read: Vancouver’s Chinatown: a vibrant neighbourhood!

2015 is the Year of Sports and May is Asian Heritage Month! To learn about another notable Asian sports team read The Asahi Baseball Team: A Tale of Perseverance and The Asahis take on the Tokyo Giants! in the This Week in History archives.

Follow us on Twitter @ParksCanada. Also, click here to learn about the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

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