Hong Kong cricketers receive full-time contracts with Sports Institute
A record 15 players are involved in the partnership between the elite training academy and the Hong Kong Cricket Association
The city’s elite cricketers were given a major boost yesterday when the governing body announced renewed support from the Hong Kong Sports Institute for another year, with a record 15 players receiving scholarships.
Captain Tanwir Afzal, big-hitting batsman Babar Hayat and Aizaz Khan are the only three with both Hong Kong Cricket Association and SI contracts, while Li Kai-ming is one of three youngsters who is on a rookie deal with the HKCA.
“This really helps a lot,” said Afzal. “We have access to more facilities to improve our physical fitness and it allows us to focus on cricket without having to worry about part-time work or studies.
“We received the support because of our ranking and qualifying for the T20 World Cup and I hope we can continue improve so that we will stay on the Institute programme.”
The squad became eligible for the HKSI Individual Athletes Support Scheme after qualifying for the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 in India, though they failed to reach the second round. The scholarships are estimated to be worth more than HK$2.6 million for one year.
According to the ICC website, Hong Kong are ranked 14th in the world in T20 – making them the city’s highest-ranked sports team. They also enjoy official one-day status, which means they are eligible to play series against the world’s top teams.
“The support is vital in our quest to prepare as well as we possibly can for the World Cup Qualifiers and Asian Games in 2018,” said HKCA director of cricket Charlie Burke.
“HKSI support to the athletes and the overall programme budget allows more time with the athletes and we also get the access and use of the wonderful facility and professional resources in Fo Tan.”
HKSI director of high performance management, Margaret Siu, said the partnership with the HKCA is in recognition of their results on the world stage over the past few years.
“The Hong Kong Cricket team has been performing well in recent years and we hope that with increased support from the HKSI and the on-going effort of the HK Cricket Association, our cricket players’ standard will be greatly enhanced,” said Siu.
The following players are supported by the scheme.
HKCA and HKSI full-time contracts: Tanwir Afzal, Babar Hayat, Aizaz Khan.
HKSI full-time contracts: Ehsan Nawaz, Mark Chapman, Kinchit Shah, Nizakat Khan, Waqas Khan, Anshuman Rath, Nadeem Ahmed.
HKCA full-time contracts: Chris Carter, Adil Mehmood.
HKCA rookie contracts: Li Kai-ming, Giacomo Lamplough, Tanveer Ahmed.