Kick start for shuttlecock

Benson Chao

THE traditional Chinese game of shuttlecock has never really caught on in Hong Kong as a popular sport - and we may be missing something good here.

In order to promote the game, and remind us that once upon a time it was a favourite recreation of generations past, the Urban Council has launched a series of shuttlecock promotion activities, which include demonstrations and competitions.

Some Young Post readers may have already seen a recent shuttlecock demonstration by elite players from the Guangzhou Shuttlecock Team, either on TV or during the team's visits to secondary schools.

The ace players made kicking shuttlecocks look more like an art than a sport.

Some of them staged moves that looked like kung fu stunts.

Recently the team, along with representatives from the Hong Kong Shuttlecock Association, showed a crowd at Hong Kong Park how to play the game as a match between two three-member teams.

A standard badminton court was used, with the net set lower than for badminton. Each team was allowed a maximum of four kicks of the shuttlecock before sending it over to the opposing team.

A game consists of three sets, each ending at 21 points. The team that gets two sets or more wins.

Tang Wai-man, chairman of the Hong Kong Shuttlecock Association, said shuttlecock demanded better co-ordination but less stamina than soccer, and could be more fun.

'For a warm-up exercise, straighten your left arm in front of your body. Then lift your right foot to reach your hand. Repetition of this exercise improves co-ordination,' Mr Tang said.

There are several types of shuttlecock available on the market, the most common and colourful one being made of newspaper.

Mr Tang said Hong Kong students were still not very keen on the sport because not many physical education teachers knew the game themselves.

In Taiwan and China, children as young as six years get a training in the sport. They have physical education classes exclusively for shuttlecock.

An International Shuttlecock Invitation Tournament was held here recently, featuring teams from China, Taiwan, Germany and Hong Kong.