In search of soccer talent

TENS of thousands of entries poured into the Hongkong Football Association for the summer youth promotion scheme starting at various venues next week and officials are confident new talent will be uncovered.

The clinics are split into six age groups for boys between nine and 19 and two age divisions for girls, under-19 and under-13.

The course would be of six sessions and those who showed promise would be enlisted into stage two for another six classes, after which the most promising players will be drafted into district teams.

There would be another eight training sessions and with the programme culminating with an inter-regional competition at the end of the year.

The scheme, sponsored by Yaohan Department Store, has been a tremendous success in previous years with the top players progressing on for scholarship at the Hongkong Sports Institute.

The Coca-Cola supported soccer scholarship programme, headed by HKSI coaches Kwok Ka-ming, Lai Sun-cheung and Chan Yong-chong, has produced 10 footballers who are in the current national squad.


HKSI marketing director William Tam said 41 talented players had completed their scholarship since the scheme was implemented in 1987 and 30 of them were now serving First Division clubs.

Leading club Eastern have 11 former HKSI scholarship players on their book, including five who are members of the national squad - Chan Chi-keung, Cheung Kam-wah, Lee Wai-man, Tam Siu-wai and Law Kai-wah.

Another Eastern player is Poon Ka-ming while ex-scholarship athletes waiting for their break at Eastern are Chan Tak-li, Chan Wai-tung, Keung Heung-fai, Yeung Kin-wah and Lee Pui.

Kitchee's two star footballers and Hongkong squad players - goalkeeper Chung Ho-yin and Yau Kin-wai - also came through the Coca-Cola scholarship ranks and so did up-and-coming teammate Chung Chun-hung.


Au Wai-lun, the territory's most sought after player following the disbandment of Ernest Borel last month, will be joining fellow-HKSI trainee and national squad teammate Shum Kwok-pui at South China next season.

Another South China player drafted from the HKSI is Auyeung Ying-chee, while Sing Tao have four former scholarship athletes in their line-up, including national team defender Wong Wai-tak.


Other Sing Tao players who honed their skills at the HKSI are Chan King-chuen, Lau Ping-kwan, Chan Hon-fai and so did Happy Valley trio Pang Chi-tong, Leung Kam-fai, Lui Woon-man.

The rest of the HKSI scholarship footballers now with First Division sides are Kui Tan's Lee Chun-fat, Lau Dik-lun, Chan Chi-hong and Cheng Tak-kin and Michelotti's Leung Shing-kit and Nip Chak-hang.

Tam said: ''The HKSI started an elite team of under-15 players in 1991 with a special 21/2-year training programme and this has produced very good results.


''Seven players from this team have been signed by First Division clubs and they may be making their debut in professional soccer next season.'' The Coca-Cola under-19 scholarship players went to Malaysia on a six-day training stint earlier this year and showed their potential by winning all matches. They beat the Malaysia national junior team, the Selangor Indian Selection and the Selangor Under-23 team.