Officials seek Lacrosse Open expansion as hosts Hong Kong enjoy double success

Men’s and women’s teams win Sunday’s finals at Stanley Ho Sports Centre with 100 per cent records over the long Easter weekend

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 April, 2017, 6:23pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 April, 2017, 12:44am

Local officials will seek assistance from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department in order to boost Hong Kong’s chances on the international scene following another successful hosting of the Lacrosse Open at Stanley Ho Sports Centre over the Easter weekend.

Hong Kong enjoyed double success on Sunday as the men’s and women’s teams won their respective finals as both sides finished with 100 per cent records after the three-day event.

But the Hong Kong Lacrosse Association is hoping to expand the tournament, which was played with 10 men’s and five women’s teams, by seeking to bring in stiffer competition from Europe, Canada and the United States to aid the chances of the local sides when they step up to world level.

“We are looking at extending the invitation to European teams and also from America and Canada, but one of the challenges is that it is right in the middle of the league season,” said association chief executive officer Raymond Fong Kun-sheng.

“First of all we need to sort out the venue where we can host additional teams, as right now we have been very fortunate because of the limitation of the time and space.”

Fong labelled the event “the second biggest tournament in the region” behind June’s Asia-Pacific Championship in South Korea, which will see both Hong Kong teams take on higher ranked sides in the shape of the hosts, Japan and Australia.

Hong Kong’s women ready to ‘push the boundaries’ at World Cup after securing place in Lacrosse Open final

The association recently joined the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee, although it may take time for that link to start to bear fruit, with Fong ideally looking to expand the Lacrosse Open to a five-day event, needing up to four pitches instead of the two used this time, with a new under-19 and under-12 division added to aid youth development.

“The status of the Olympic [committee] is a boost of the image, but in terms of leveraging that status in terms of getting resources, it is not yet as we are too new as we only became a member late last year, so I am more leaning toward getting help from the [Leisure and Cultural Services Department] to get the pitches,” added Fong.

The tournament in South Korea is particularly key for Travis Taylor’s women’s team, who beat Japan’s Team Fun 9-1 in Sunday’s final, with Hong Kong then heading to the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in July in England.

“In Hong Kong, because we don’t usually get a lot of competition as the player pool is not very big as at the top level there are only around 40 of us, this tournament is very important to see if our hard work has paid off over the last two years, if our teamwork and strategies are coming along and that we are showing our fitness,” said Hong Kong’s Carrie Hui Ka-hei, who is set to make her second World Cup appearance in July.

So far, so good for Hong Kong duo at Lacrosse Open

“Compared to the last World Cup, I am much more confident and I feel like our team is ready and going to do a great job. We are just looking to play our best. We don’t play that many games so we don’t know what it means to play at a higher level, so at the World Cup we will look to play at our highest standard and see where it gets us.”

At the last World Cup in Canada in 2013, Hong Kong’s women finished 18th out of 19 teams.

“Lacrosse is a contact game, there is a lot of fitness and skills, and if we bring in European teams there is a big size difference and in terms of athleticism, so it would be a good experience for our next World Cup team to play against stronger teams,” added Hui.

Scott Browning’s men’s team, who will also make the trip to South Korea in June, have to wait until 2018 for their next World Lacrosse Championship which will also be held in England, having finished 21st out of the 38 teams in Denver in 2014.

‘High expectations’ for hosts ahead of Hong Kong Lacrosse Open, says association chief

“We had a statement here,” said Hong Kong’s Joey Au Yeung Chun-yu after Browning’s side recorded a 12-2 win over local club side and defending champions Team JJ in Sunday’s final.

“We have played the Hong Kong Open for the three years before, but this year we are controlling and we are telling people where our position is in Asia.

“Things have escalated over the last few years from a development level to the representative team, especially with a high-performance programme, and it has meant insane improvement since 2014.”