Q&A: Red Force
Chan Siu-ki and Man Pei-tak are familiar faces in the local football scene, but recently they have appeared in a different role. The pair formed a boy band, Red Force, with their South China teammates - Hinson Leung, Lee Wai-lim and Kwok Kin-pong - and released a mini album to raise money for the Po Leung Kuk Football Development Fund.
Chan, 25, was lauded after scoring the equaliser in the final match against Japan at the 2009 East Asia Games and was named Hong Kong Footballer of the Year last year.
Man, who turned professional at 17, was signed as a singer thanks to his good looks after being spotted by the Emperor Entertainment Group in 2004. The midfielder set his singing career aside after joining South China, the city's biggest football club now owned by the BMA entertainment group, in 2006.
How did you get the idea to form a boy band?
Man: It was just a charitable project for the Football Development Fund. But all the publicity we got from the project helps to promote Hong Kong football, letting more people know about our club and players.
How was the recording experience?
Chan: We kept laughing when we started recording. We are not professional singers and we knew nothing about recording and just did what the producer asked us to do. We were making fun of each other when we listened to the playback. It was strange to hear our own voices in the recording. After it was mixed, I think our singing sounded pretty good.
Did you do anything to polish your singing skills before going into the studio?
Man: No, we didn't go through any vocal training. We just kept listening to the demos. That was how we prepared for the recording.
Do you like singing? Are you regular karaoke-goers?
Chan: Yes, in fact we go to karaoke quite often.
Man: To be honest, there's not much to do in Hong Kong. We usually go to karaoke, watch movies, go shopping or hang out with our friends after training. Since we have to work out and train almost every day, we seldom do other sports.
Man, you were an EEG artist before joining South China a few years ago. Are you interested in the entertainment industry?
Man: Now I'm focused on being a footballer. If the entertainment industry wants me I'll give it a shot. To me, being a football player or an entertainer are just different ways to make a living. I never thought I would be a professional player when I was a kid. I just loved to play football. I was given the chance to take part in formal training, and later received an offer to become a professional player.
Since BMA bought South China, it has brought more commercial and entertainment elements to the team. What do you think about the transformation?
Man: It's good for the development of Hong Kong football. The five of us are the first players to do this kind of project. Hopefully, more will do it in the future. In other countries, top footballers are like movie stars. There is news and gossip about them in the papers almost every day.
Chan: I hope this will attract more people to the stadiums to watch local games. They can watch international games on the television at home. However, watching a live game and seeing it on television are two completely different things.
Which are your favourite foreign teams?
Man: I like Arsenal. I've been following them for 10 years. I admire how Arsene Wenger manages them. He has his own philosophy, which has turned Arsenal into a team with its own character and strength.
Chan: I like Manchester United because I'm a big fan of David Beckham. Even though he left the club ages ago, I still support the Red Devils.
What's your training routine?
Chan: It's just like having a nine-to-five job. We have two to four hours of training from Monday to Saturday. If there's a game on Sunday, we get a day off on Monday.
Chan, you were named the Hong Kong Footballer of the Year for the 2009/10 season. What does the award mean to you?
Chan: It's recognition of my effort during that season. But after receiving the award, it's important to find a way to handle the pressure and keep performing well. People always expect you to deliver great performances on the field and keep improving.
I was in my best shape that season. Since then, I've had surgery to remove a bone spur in my ankle. Then I was injured in a game and that took me two more months to recover from. It was frustrating. I did a lot of work to get back in shape. But as an athlete, it's hard to avoid injuries.