NATIONAL coach Chan Chi-choi is hoping that the Vita distilled water badminton development scheme will soon bear fruit. Chan, who accompanies an eight-strong national squad for next week's World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, admitted yesterday that the territory faces a tough task to remain competitive in their four-country group. 'The team is facing a transition period following the retirement of many experienced players after last October's Asian Games in Hiroshima,' Chan said. One such player was Hong Kong number one Wong Wai-lap, who recently stepped down from top-level competitive matches. The absence of many leading players has led to the sport suffering but Chan is still hopeful and pointed to the Vita development scheme - which was yesterday extended for a further 12 months in badminton - as the way forward. 'If we can keep youngsters interested and involved in the scheme for a long period, we can repeat the success of Hong Kong badminton in the late 80s and early 90s,' said Chan, who with Amy Chan, won the territory a gold medal at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, New Zealand. Success at the world championships will be hard to come by, however, for the four-men (Chan Siu-kwong, Tam Lok-tin, Tam Kai-chuen and Tim Che Yi-ming), four-women team (Tina Tang Chau-man, Ngan Fai, Chan Oi-ni and Ng Ching). Played on a team format, the territory are grouped with New Zealand, Australia and Finland in Group E. If Hong Kong finish at the top of the group, they will be promoted to Group D. If they finish last, they will be demoted. 'It is going to be hard to win promotion. Our best hope is that we try to stay in Group E,' Chan said. Meanwhile, the Vita scheme, which promotes the sport at all levels and is in its second year, will continue to receive support from the Hong Kong Sports Institute. 'The scheme has achieved outstanding results during the past 12 months and we are delighted to continue the sponsorship deal,' said Kenneth Tsui, marketing director of Vitasoy International Holdings Ltd at yesterday's press conference. Hong Kong captured a team bronze medal at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Canada while up-and-coming Tam Kai-chuen won the Asian Junior Invitational Championships last year. The scheme comprises five components ranging from grassroots development to elite training at the HKSI.