Tough test for handball stars
Hong Kong will face off against Taipei in the first round of the seventh HKSAR International Handball Tournament next month.
The Handball Association of Hong Kong (HAHK) announced the schedule at a press conference on Tuesday. Six teams will take part in the tournament, which will be held at Kowloon Park Sports Centre during the Easter holidays from April 5 to 9.
The competition will be played on a single round-robin format, with two-time winners China and Taiwan, last year's champions Germany, top Asian side South Korea, 2006 Silver Plate winners Hong Kong and newcomers Iran battling for top honours.
Ip Shi-yan, one of the captains of the Hong Kong team, said most countries would send their strongest teams to Hong Kong as they prepared for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
'Our first game is against Taiwan, who have been a strong team in the past. Taiwan have fast and skilful players. We don't have much of a chance against them, but we'll try our best,' said Ip, a 20-year-old student at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
'Iran and China might be easier teams to beat. China's players are bigger, so they might be slower. And we have played against them many times, so we know their strategy.
'It's going to be difficult to get into the top three.'
The Hong Kong team last competed at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, finishing in 12th place.
'At the Asian Games, we looked at how the other teams played and their strengths and weaknesses. Hong Kong's weakness is offence, but we have speed. We will be more flexible than Iran,' Ip said.
The six teams will vie for the Gold Cup and Silver Plate, as well as prize money totalling US$13,500.
A Most Valuable Player Award will be presented to the best performers of each team, and one of them will be crowned 'The Star of Stars'.
Tickets are now available, with a day pass for April 5 to 8 and April 9 costing HK$30
and HK$50 for students, respectively (HK$60 and HK$100 for adults).
For more details, call the HAHK at 2504 8119 or visit www.handball.org.hk