Challenging team sport
Hockey is played in Hong Kong by a vibrant community of more than 3,000 people of all ages who participate in mini-hockey tournaments, youth and adult leagues, for both sexes.
'Hockey is an all-round sport that provides a challenge for children in hand-eye co-ordination, agility and physical power. It also promotes a team mentality and provides a social environment for children to learn at a young age,' says Eva Yeung, sports executive at the Hong Kong Hockey Association (HKHA).
The HKHA (www.hockey.org.hk) provides training courses for teenagers from 12 to 18 and adults.
For children below 12, local clubs affiliated to the HKHA provide programmes for a modified version, called mini-hockey.
The clubs run a number of tournaments that provide younger children with valuable experience of match conditions.
'These tournaments are an important platform to bring young talent into the youth and adult HKHA leagues and are growing bigger each year. Up to 70 teams, involving several hundred players, together with parents, participate at each tournament,' Yeung says.
Playing conditions are designed to suit the needs of children, with pitches reduced to the size of a basketball court. Rules are used in a more flexible way by coaches and umpires so that training sessions and games run smoothly and safely.
'Safety is of prime importance at this level of the sport. Play is immediately stopped if any element of danger is observed, such as children falling down near the play, or when the ball is lifted into the air accidentally,' Yeung says.
'Coaches also educate players in where they should put their stick, controlling the follow through of a hit and how to avoid places where there will be a higher chance of getting hit.'
Training sessions cover the basic skills of passing, trapping, dribbling and shooting.
Older children develop an understanding of the different roles for players on the field and playing as a team member.
The regular season runs from September to May and training sessions for all age groups are held every week for around one hour.
This may vary, depending on the club and level of the team.
Players are usually ready for a competitive environment after two or three months' training.
Costs range from around HK$300 per season at one of the newer clubs to around HK$3,000 at a more established one.
Parents interested in enrolling their child in mini-hockey should contact the HKHA's Allen Tse (firstname.lastname@example.org).