Football-crazy Yau's winning formula

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 July, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 July, 1999, 12:00am

What are you doing now that the football season is over? I'm taking a short summer break but I still go to the South China Football Club gym to work out. I'll resume training for the game against Manchester United later this month.

Hong Kong is awaiting South China's encounter with Man chester United at the Hong Kong Stadium. What result are you expecting for this 'big game'? Is there a lot of pressure on you? We won't put ourselves under too much pressure or speculate about results. We'll just try to enjoy the game. It's a good opportunity for us to learn from one of the world's top football teams. It will be the second time South China will play Manchester United. I promise the people of Hong Kong, we [South China] will try our best in the match.

How did you become a pro fessional football player and how long have you been one? What have you gained over the years in football? I participated in a youth football training programme organised by the Hong Kong Football Association when I was in Primary Six and I represented the district where I lived in a football competition. Later, my results gave me a place on a training programme.

At the age of 17, I represented Hong Kong in the Olympic Games. I pondered over joining a large or a small team. In the end, I joined the smaller one because I thought it would give me more opportunities to develop.

After four years, I joined South China.

Did you receive any opposi tion from friends or family when you decide to take up football as a career? Yes, I did. They worried I would not study. They also believed football was not a good career. I understood their feelings, so I promised them I would finish my secondary education first.

I treasured every match and opportunity to explore my football skills. I didn't mind hard work and injuries because I knew my efforts would pay off if I set myself a goal. Now, I think I made the right decision in taking football up as a career.

What was your childhood ambition? Do you have any re grets about being a football player? I'm proud of being a football player. I remember my primary school teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I replied I wanted to be a football player. Now, I'm very happy that I turned my hobby into a career.

What has been your most un forgettable experience? Defeating the world's top football team Brazil's Sao Paolo. It was an amazing game because we did not believe we could defeat them. I still remember many fans went crazy over the result.

How did you feel when you received the Hong Kong Foot baller of the Year award recent ly.

I was very excited because I did not expect to get it. It's not only an honour for me but it was also a recognition of the role of defenders.

I won't be arrogant because I can still improve. I want to thank my coach and family who have supported me ceaselessly.

With the Footballer of the Year title in your bag, what's your next goal? As a member of South China, I want to help the team win the championship and improve my performance in the next league.

Who are your favourite foot ballers? Which teams do you like? I loved Eric Cantona before. But now, I like David Ginola from Tottenham Hotspur and Roy Keane from Manchester United. I've no favourite team.

What do you like to do after training? Besides football, which sport do you like? Football, football and football! Playing football is my life. I can't live without it. Nothing can compare with it. So, when I'm free, I like watching football matches.

What do you think of the standard of Hong Kong football players? I think they are up to standard. Hong Kong also has many talented players but they lack experience in competitions and determination. Overseas teams always outperform us because they are good at keeping their emotions under control and their spirits high in competitions. They won't give up until the very last minute of the game. We should learn from this attitude.

When will you retire from football? What are your plans for the future? It's too early for me to think about it. I'm not too old to play football. But I know a footballer's shelf-life is short. So, I should save more money and plan for the coming years.

What are your tips for youths interested in football? First, you should love the game. If not, you can not keep at it for long. Talent is important, but without determination and patience, you can't play well.

What do you think of the de velopment of local football? Some say it is regressing while in Japan and South Korea, it has been improving.

I think the development of football depends on many things. What we can do is very limited. Promotion and financial assistance are needed. As footballers, we should improve our skills continuously. Football is the most popular sport in Hong Kong. I believe if our Government gave us more funding to train youths and promote the sport, more good players would emerge. I'm optimistic about the development of Hong Kong football. We have excellent players. What we lack is experience in competition. I'm sure Hong Kong football will have a prosperous future.

We know many girls used to wait for you after training. What were your feelings? I was touched by their support. They're always passionate and supportive. However, they shouldn't waste their time. I hope they can show their support in other ways.

You're a role model for youths. What do you have to say to them? I understand they will come across many challenges and they are easily frustrated with failure. Youths should grasp every opportunity to develop themselves. Opportunities exist but not necessarily for everyone. If you miss them, you will regret it. There's no short cut to success: hard work is the key.

South China defender Yau Kin-wai's dream came true after joining a youth football training scheme. The joys of running across a foot ball pitch and kicking a ball made Yau dedicate himself to being a football player from childhood.

Facing opposition from his family and encountering difficulties did not shatter his dreams of becoming a professional football player. There's no doubt that the life of a footballer is tough, espe cially in Hong Kong but Yau understands that complaining is use less and chooses to work hard instead.

Years of hard work paid off when the 26-year-old defender re ceived the Hong Kong Footballer of the Year title. Yau said that the purpose of his success was not to honour his brilliant performance but to tell youths that they should have a dream.

Name: Yau Kin-wai Birthday: January 4, 1973 Birthplace: Hong Kong Occupation: Footballer