You can count Hong Kong's soccer successes on the fingers of one hand - the most memorable being the historic 2-1 defeat of China in a World Cup qualifier in 1985 and most recently winning the gold medal at the East Asian Games. The victory over a young Japanese side at the games last month was by no means a fluke, but the result of a number of coincidences. In fact, Hong Kong soccer still lags way behind the top teams in the region, including South Korea, Japan, North Korea and China, who all sent youth sides or their second- and third-string teams to the games. Hong Kong's moment in the sun will be a distant memory when the team competes in the largest multi-sport games in the region, the Asian Games in Guangzhou in November. Hong Kong were eliminated in the group stage in Doha four years ago and the same fate awaits them. The fundamental faults in the system cannot be changed in time as success in team sports does not come overnight. Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing has made it clear the government will continue to provide subvention and other assistance to soccer in accordance with the results-oriented funding policy applying to all sports in Hong Kong. As Legco today discusses a motion to further sports development following Hong Kong's success at the East Asian Games - the government will also reveal a consultancy study in March on the betterment of soccer - we strongly urge the authorities to change that straitjacket policy to help soccer and other team sports. At the Sports Institute, the government's elite sports training facility, 14 programmes focus on sports for individual athletes. There is not one team sport. Granted, these individual sports won the bulk of the 26 gold medals for Hong Kong at the Games, including a clean sweep of seven gold medals in squash, and five in wushu and three in windsurfing. Soccer was the only team sport to win gold and one of the two non-Sports Institute-funded sports to stand on the top of the medal podium. The other was judo thanks to Yu Kin-ting's victory in the men's under-55kg category. Soccer was one of the programmes at the Sports Institute when the centre for excellence was established in 1982. Sports were then selected on criteria such as popularity, international exposure, organisation, and possible international results. Yet when the authorities decided to judge elite sports by results only, soccer was kicked out of the institute in 1998 as it could not match windsurfing, table tennis and squash. The reason seems obvious as you need far more support for a team, from identifying the numerous talents needed to providing training and sending them overseas for competitions, to acquire the same level of success as seen with individual athletes. If the same funding policy continues, soccer, basketball, volleyball and others will never be able to raise their standards to compete on the international stage. A good result in team sport, especially soccer, means much more than individual glory. The Hong Kong Stadium shook as 31,000 fans bayed for blood in the East Asian Games final. You cannot find that level of support anywhere else - not in the women's table tennis team final when Hong Kong upset 'invincible' China, not in the all-Hong Kong badminton women's singles final when Yip Pui-yin beat Zhou Mi, and not in the men's cycling road race when the hosts grabbed all three medals through Tang Wang-yip, Yeung Ying-hon and Kwok Ho-ting. Even the politicians are using Hong Kong's soccer success to gain perceived legitimacy from either the central government or the masses, and to enhance their political standing through their association with football. Former United States president Ronald Reagan was especially adept at using sport to his political advantage. Before the 1984 election, his campaign staff hinted at a connection between Reagan's first four years in the White House and the US success at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. The claim was that Reagan had restored American pride and the nation's place in the international political arena. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen can take a leaf out of his book and do something for soccer.