Gold medal offers inspiration for HK
Kevin Kung, Young Post intern
After the extraordinary performance of the Hong Kong team in last month's East Asian Games, Young Post asked four young footballers about its effect on the development of the local game.
'The gold medal certainly boosted young players' morale,' said David Ngan Lok-fung, 16, a promising squad member at Kitchee Sports Club of the local First Division.
'Recently, our team held some demonstrations in shopping malls and the feedback was incredible,' he said.
Another Kitchee player Lali Li Ka-chun, 16, thinks expectations have risen after the gold medal win.
'In the future, locals would like to see the Hong Kong team qualify for the Asian Games, the Olympics or even the World Cup,' he said. 'It sounded impossible before the East Asian Games, but now all these have become targets!'
And Choi Kwok-wai, 18, top scorer at the 2009 All China Secondary School Students Games, also noticed a change after the East Asian Games triumph.
'I have never seen such a big crowd cheering for the Hong Kong team,' said Choi, who watched the East Asian Games football final live at Hong Kong Stadium. 'As a Hong Kong footballer, I hope I'm always applauded when I play. And after the victory of our local team, my friends and relatives are more eager to find out about my training and matches.'
Choi's classmate and teammate at the All China Secondary School Students Games, Li Shu-yeung, 18, agreed the gold medal could be a turning point and he hopes for a brighter future.
'The career of a football player can be short and unpredictable. I hope the government can help retired players and provide the necessary assistance. And compared with other sports in Hong Kong, the promotion of football matches is still far behind,' Li said.
Li Ka-chun pointed out another problem. 'We lack a permanent training pitch, and it is incredible that even a First Division club sometimes fails to book one,' he said.
But the good news for him, and for local soccer, is that the Hong Kong Football Association is planning to build a huge training centre in Tseung Kwan O, while the government will be constructing nine new pitches in different districts.