Top venue for aspiring soccer stars
Good news for young footballers. With financial support from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Kitchee - the local First Division champions - will construct a youth football training centre in Shek Mun.
The centre will help boost the quality of local youth training.
At a recent press conference, the Jockey Club and Kitchee announced their joint plan to construct a football training centre at a cost of about HK$50 million.
The Jockey Club will donate HK$44 million for the project, which is expected to be completed in 18 months.
The new venue - the Jockey Club Kitchee Centre - will be located beside Shek Mun station on the MTR's Ma On Shan line.
It will cover an area of 15,050 square metres, and the complex will include changing rooms, medical rooms and offices.
According to the plan, there will be pitches of different sizes to enable young players to practise in various formations.
The centre will be used as a base for footballers aged six or above. Candidates will be able to join the training programme for free after passing an ability test. Besides youth and club training, the centre will be available for public bookings.
In honour of the support provided by the Jockey Club, Kitchee also announced that it would name the trophy for their upcoming match against English powerhouse Arsenal on July 29 as 'The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust Challenge Cup'.
Douglas So, executive director of charities at the Jockey Club, said they decided to support the training centre for several reasons.
'We are dedicated to promoting youth football training in Hong Kong,' So said.
'At the same time, we noticed that there weren't enough football pitches. As a resident [of the racecourse] in Sha Tin, the Jockey Club would like to serve the local community.'
So added that the Jockey Club would like to see the values of fair play, teamwork and discipline instilled in young footballers through the centre's training programme.
Students joining the Professional Footballer Preparatory Programme at YCH Tung Chi Ying Memorial Secondary School will also benefit from the establishment of the new training venue.
Form Two student Tim Cheng Chin-lung, 14, who is a forward for the Kitchee under-15 team, said the new centre would help reduce the travelling time from school to training venues.
'We usually have school team practice at Ma On Shan Sports Ground for the last three lessons every school day, and we need to rush for club training right after school,' Tim said. 'Training venues change frequently and the most distant one was at Aberdeen.'
That problem will soon be solved since the new centre and the school will be in the same district.
Tim's schoolmate, Form Four student Roy Fok Man-ho, 16, said he, too, was looking forward to enjoying the benefits of the new venue.
'The centre will also be used for some club training sessions, and even after I graduate, I still want to play for Kitchee. This centre near my home will benefit me a lot,' said the Kitchee U17 team forward.
Kitchee says the centre will start operating in 2014.
'At the moment, we are waiting for approval from the Lands Department,' said Ken Ng, chairman of Kitchee Foundation.
'We aim to finish construction work in 18 months.'