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Hong Kong housing

‘We’re running out of places to play’ – archery and woodball join golf in cross hairs of Hong Kong government’s development plans

If the Tuen Mun Recreation & Sports Centre gives way to housing, it won’t only be mainstream sports that take a hit

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 February, 2018, 1:20pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 February, 2018, 10:07pm

Most people have never heard of it and the Hong Kong Woodball Association knows it is at the bottom of the sporting food chain, but it risks being eaten alive in the Hong Kong government’s quest to find land for housing. 

The archery range at the Tuen Mun Recreation & Sports Centre is one of only a handful of places the association has access to, but that list will shorten if the facility becomes a victim of the government’s housing push.

While the Hong Kong Golf Club at Fanling is fighting to maintain its territory, the Tuen Mun space is one of 95 government recreation facilities being discussed for potential development.

“We’re running out of places to play, there are not many places that we qualify to play,” said Carmen Lam Ka-man, one of Hong Kong’s top players.

“This is already a breakthrough that we can use this one, only half a year ago we were allowed to book this [by the LCSD].”

A game that is similar to croquet, woodball originated in Taiwan and has been played in Hong Kong for about 20 years, with its almost 500 local players – a number that is growing – competing mainly in university competitions.

“We only have four to five pitches for us to play. If this shuts down it’s one less option we have,” said HKWA committee member Banker Chung of the sport’s constant battle for space.

In addition to the archery range, the Tuen Mun site boasts a golf driving range and a host of short-game practising facilities, plus a park and a playground with a rock climbing wall.

There are around 7,000 archers and counting in Hong Kong, a growth that could stall if the Tuen Mun field is closed.

There are only three archery ranges managed by the LCSD and two by the HKAA, with the closest of those to Tuen Mun near Tin Shui Wai.

“Closure of the field would exert a negative impact on archery in Hong Kong,” said the Hong Kong Archery Association. “Having a number of venues is one of the key factors in developing archery.

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“For the people who live in the Tuen Mun district, they would have to travel to another archery range, [impacting] their motivation to play.”

Golf star Tiffany Chan Tsz-chingthe first Hongkonger to qualify for the LPGA tour, learned her craft at Tuen Mun and Hong Kong Golf Association chief executive Danny Lai said its closure would stunt the game’s ability to attract young players.

“We have regional centres, on Hong Kong side we have the South China Athletic Association, on Kowloon side we have Sha Tin and Tuen Mun. Tuen Mun is the most popular training centre, it was the cradle of Tiffany Chan,” he said.

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“It’s unbelievable. I feel that the government is coming after golf. They have no idea how important these facilities are for us.”

The Hong Kong Jockey Club-managed Tuen Mun Public Riding School is near the sports centre, but there has been no suggestion it would be closed if the development plans go ahead.