Hong Kong cricketers look to boost income after loss of Sports Institute funding
Top players are taking up overseas contracts and coaching roles as they also prepare for September’s Asia Cup qualifiers
The city’s leading cricketers are seeking ways to boost their personal income to make up for the loss of Hong Kong Sports Institute funding.
Former captain Tanwir Afzal has secured a league cricket contract in the Netherlands, Ehsan Khan is freelancing as a coach, while others such as skipper Babar Hayat and Nizakat Khan are also looking to pick up overseas stints as well as coach.
“With the Hong Kong Sports Institute funding much less than before, there is less money for the players and it’s difficult for some,” said Ehsan Khan, one of the better performers at March’s World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe where Hong Kong failed to retain their one-day status.
“[Governing body] Cricket Hong Kong tries to help us a lot and for me, I can make it up by doing more coaching but it’s not the case of all of us,” said Ehsan, 34.
“It can be a struggle but it is because of our love for cricket that we continue to play. That is our priority. Lack of money won’t stop us from playing,” added Ehsan, who loses income when representing Hong Kong because of missed coaching opportunities.
Since 2015, 11 cricketers were part of the programme that included coaching and use of Institute facilities.
Funding from world governing body, ICC, is also set to be cut after Hong Kong lost their one-day status.
Hong Kong’s next assignment is the 2018 Asian Cup qualifiers in September in India, where they will compete with Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Singapore and United Arab Emirates for one place in the finals.
Head coach Simon Cook said preparations for major tournaments will stay the same despite the loss of Institute funding.
“In terms of the cricket programme we are putting together, nothing changes,” said Cook, who said Cricket Hong Kong (CHK) is providing extra money to players under contract. “It’s the same contact hours. What has been reduced is the financial support.
“It’s disappointing we are no longer eligible to be in the Institute. It’s nothing to do with what we have done, it’s because Jakarta is not putting cricket in the Asian Games.
“What we had to do in the association is to consolidate and work out how best to provide the same level of service, if not better, to the players. And that’s what we’re working on.”
Tanwir is now in the Netherlands playing league cricket and is hoping CHK can come up with ways to help players boost their income.
“It’s difficult now,” said Tanwir before he left for the Netherlands. “CHK is doing a lot of hard work to get sponsors and improve the sport. For people like me, who have family here, it’s quite difficult.
“Some players are better off than others. People like Babar can also go overseas and this is something that [coach] Cookie is encouraging so we can play in different conditions and improve our performances.”