Shuttlecock champions heading for nationals
To most of us, a shuttlecock is what badminton players hit over the net. But shuttlecock is also the name of a game in which players use the feet or any other part of the body - except the hands - to keep a 'featherball' in the air.
It is one of the nine events of the All China Secondary Schools Students' Games to be held in Inner Mongolia this July.
The shuttlecock, or jianzi, is made up of a heavy rubber end with four feathers stuck into it. The court is similar to a badminton court.
The height of the net for girls is 1.5 metres, the same as for badminton, while the boys' net is 10cm higher.
Players of the opposing teams stand at either side of the net. They kick to serve and try to score by having the shuttlecock land on their opponents' side or causing their opponents to hit it into the net.
Each player in a singles match is allowed up to two kicks before sending the shuttlecock over the net.
For doubles and teams, there is a maximum of four kicks in total (not more than two per player) before returning it over the net.
Young Post met the winners of the boys' and girls' singles in the Inter-school Shuttlecock Invitational Competition held at Tai Po Hui Sports Centre this month.
Leung Kwan-ho and Chan Hiu-lam will now head for the Games in Baotou.
In shuttlecock, there will be singles, doubles and teams and also mixed doubles matches.
Kwan-ho, who is in Form Five at Buddhist Hung Sean Chau Memorial College, won gold medals in the singles, doubles and team events at the inter-school games.
'All of us will face hard matches, as Chinese athletes are among the top contestants in the world,' he said. 'They were even medallists at the world championships.'
The girls' singles final was a thriller. Hiu-lam won the deciding game 16-14.
The victory boosted the confidence of the Form Five student from CCC Tam Lee Lai Fun Memorial Secondary School, who also helped win the doubles and girls' team title for her school.
'I have been playing this sport for four years. I won the title two years ago and lost to Liu Yi in the semi-final last year,' she said.
The two players' shoes are designed for the sport.
The front is shaped to increase the power of an attacking kick, and the side helps control the shuttlecock.
'We started with normal trainers. After acquiring the basic skills and techniques, we ordered shoes designed for shuttlecock players from the manufacturer in Guangdong. It took us some time to adapt to them,' said Hiu-lam.
Cheng Wing-hang, a referee from the Hong Kong Shuttlecock Association, said: 'Shuttlecock is a very exciting sport, and players may even make overhead kicks as in football.
'Players will face slightly different rules when they compete in the Games, since the mainland adopts a different set of rules from the world standard rules that we use in Hong Kong.'
The team will train overseas before heading to Inner Mongolia.