Hong Kong’s Victoria Smith out to write final chapter of career at netball Tri-Nations

Hong Kong Football Club defender will hang up her dress for the final time next month after a professional career of over 10 years

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 2:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 March, 2017, 8:38pm

For national team defender Victoria Smith this weekend’s Tri-Nations tournament with Zimbabwe and Malaysia represents the end of the second and final chapter of a netball career which has taken in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, but won’t have a third chapter in Switzerland.

The Hong Kong Football Club defender has balanced a career in marketing with netball for over 10 years after playing the sport professionally in her native New Zealand as well as Australia before moving to Hong Kong three and a half years ago.

But with a job offer with employer, Swiss global financial services company UBS, in Zurich too good to turn down, this weekend’s event at Kowloon Park ahead of the end of the current domestic season in Hong Kong in April will see Smith call time on her playing career.

“I think this is a good time for me to hang up my dress. I don’t think there is such a big scene in Switzerland, but I always seems to get roped back in as I love the girls and I love the environment, and when I first came to Hong Kong it was a good way to meet people as you have similar interest,” said Smith, who quit her job to move to Hong Kong after being captivated by the “energy” of the city during a stopover on the way back from a tournament in the United Kingdom.

“I was keen to progress from a work perspective and Hong Kong being the middle of the world it seemed like it would be a good place to do that. I was juggling both personal and professional and I thought I had hung up my dress for good and landed a job working at UBS in sponsorship team.

“I had originally thought I had hung up netball for good. I had done it for such a long time and I had a few injuries towards the end of my career and I thought it was time for a new chapter, but I was encouraged to come down to Hong Kong Football Club to play there.”

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First up for Smith and her Hong Kong teammates is this weekend’s Tri-Nations, with the hosts beginning their campaign on Friday against world number 17 Zimbabwe.

World number 26 Hong Kong then face local rivals Malaysia on Saturday as they seek revenge for a heartbreaking 35-34 defeat by the world number 19 in last year’s Asian Netball Championship.

Smith will also look to help Hong Kong Football Club clinch a fourth consecutive Hong Kong Netball League Premier Division title before heading for Zurich in May.

“I am really looking forward to playing this weekend. I have not played against Zimbabwe before so I think it will be a different style of play and is something I am looking forward to and the team is looking forward to,” added Smith.

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“And playing against Malaysia again, who we played against in the Asian Championship last year and went down my a couple of goals, so that is something to look forward to.

“Football Club are top of the table and they have taken out the last three Premierships, so it would also be a nice way to finish.”

Smith has witnessed a positive change in the way netball is approached in Hong Kong, with the team put through a gruelling fitness regime ahead of last year’s Asian Netball Championship, while the Hong Kong Netball Association are taking more of an active role in grassroots development.

“It is a different level to what I was playing in Australia and New Zealand, but it has been enjoyable in a different way and I have been able to share some of my knowledge as I have played with some amazing players and coaches and against some of the best players in the world,” said Smith.

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“It is not so much pressure and for me and now the work is the more pressure environment, the balance used to be the other way. I am looking forward to going out on a high.”

The goal for Hong Kong at the moment is next year’s Asian Netball Championship, which is set to offer the top two finishers qualification for the World Cup, previously known as the world championships.

“I think netball in Hong Kong is going in the right direction with the development of some of the players that are coming through,” added Smith.

“The thing that I have enjoyed is seeing some of the players in the wider squad develop. At the end of the day it comes down to funding as you are developing the skills at a really young age.

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“Sometimes I take it for granted that growing up in Australia and New Zealand that sport and netball are part of life and you play every day, you have a ball in hand at about four or five, but a lot of the local players pick it up later.

“But now getting down to more grassroots, and Hong Kong is doing more at that level. I definitely think Hong Kong netball is going in the right way.”