Swimmer sees challenge on dry land

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2012, 12:00am


After more than a decade of training in the water, swimmer Johney Leung Wai-chun decided to get out of the pool to do a different kind of sport: handball. To his surprise, he's quite good.

The Form Five student, from Pok Oi Hospital Tang Pui King Memorial College in Yuen Long, started playing handball last year. His friends were playing for fun during recess and lunch break. In the summer, they formed a team. They are now trying to launch a boys' handball team at school - without success so far.

Johney, 18, is determined to start the team, but that doesn't mean he has abandoned swimming.

For many years, he has won medals in the Yuen Long district inter-school championships, including three gold medals last year. He has also represented Sai Kung district in New Territories competitions, and competed in the second and third Hong Kong Games for Yuen Long.

He's less lucky with handball - his school does have a handball team, but it is for girls only. Starting a boys' team is proving to be a challenge.

'My friends and I are really in love with this ball game. I want to play on a team, because in swimming, I seldom have to work with teammates and it can be boring,' he says.

Last year, their application to set up a boys' handball team was denied. School authorities say there is a lack of resources.

In a symbolic gesture, Johney and his friends want to name their handball team Allow. 'The school's denial makes our team name more meaningful,' he says.

They are not giving up though; they plan to reapply this summer for the next school year. In the meantime, the unofficial team has invited other schools to play friendly matches. One game was against Lingnan University.

Johney has taken his interest in handball one step further. He joined summer classes organised by the South China Athletics Association, a leading handball club in the city. The club has a senior team in the First Division and a youth team in the Second Division of local league competitions.

'I started with nothing, and I didn't even know the rules and regulations of the game,' says Johney. But after eight two-hour lessons, he was one of the few chosen to join the club's youth team. That's when handball became more than a leisure activity for Johney.

He says he needs to do more than his teammates to catch up. His goal is to make the club's senior team and the Hong Kong team one day. 'I go to school alone on Saturdays to practise shooting as many times as I can,' he says.

His self-discipline could go a long way, especially if he and his friends succeed in starting a school team.

'Next year will be our last chance to play before we graduate. I hope we will have good news very soon,' he says. 'We have a dream - to form a team and improve ourselves through competitions. We are not asking for too much.'