Why Hong Kong is no place for a career in sports for many youngsters
- Sport is often regarded as just a pastime, deserving neither extra time nor effort
- Without subsidies or promotional efforts, the prospects for having international coaching experts or more sophisticated facilities are poor
During any sports extravaganza, like the Olympics, patriotic sentiments are often heightened. It may even be the time when people show their most genuine passion and support for their country. When cheering for the Chinese team as a Hong Kong citizen, however, I cannot help but wonder: “Will athletes from our city ever get the same attention?”
In interviews about the difficulties of being a full-time sportsperson in Hong Kong, some local professionals have spoken of real-life hurdles on the track and field (“Three challenges remain for Hong Kong sports development”, October 28).
Hong Kong’s wide exposure to international cultures notwithstanding, the influence that traditional values exert on citizens, especially on the older generation, is a force we have to reckon with. Achievement, the definition of which is coloured by these values, is directly proportional to the numbers on your monthly pay cheque. Thus, in the eyes of many, successful professions include doctors, lawyers and accountants.
Lying at the periphery of school subjects in Hong Kong, sport is often regarded as just a pastime, deserving neither extra time nor effort. This is the biggest headwind for Hong Kong athletes as they seek to realise their sporting dreams.
Interrelated with the unfavourable perception of pursuing a career in sports is the meagre support provided by the government. In this city of prosperous finances, companies can easily tap into government resources for operational and promotional support. Yet such is hardly the case for the sports sector, as it does not guarantee profits or an international reputation for Hong Kong.
Without subsidies or promotional efforts, the prospects for having international coaching experts or more sophisticated facilities are poor. This presents a sizeable challenge, even if the city has talents ready to be taken to the next stage of training, in preparation for entering competitions offering higher recognition.
Sadly, the difficulties for Hong Kong sports professionals do not end there. Unlike some cities, Hong Kong barely has enough space to house all its citizens and welcome visitors, let alone room for sporting infrastructure, which normally requires sizeable plots of land. The city simply cannot afford to prioritise recreation over development of the commercial or tourism sectors.
Even if the track and field starts to carry weight with decision makers some day, and there is enough funding, finding a place to build sports infrastructure will always remain a problem.
Chloe Ng, Tseung Kwan O