Speed, ambition and team commitment Hong Kong’s ingredients for success
Hong Kong arrives at the IKF Korfball World Championship 2019 sitting at number 11 in the current IKF ranking. Participation in the two previous WKC tournaments resulted in Hong Kong finishing in fourteenth place in 2011 and twelfth in 2015.
Kuen Ham played in both those tournaments, and is back as part for the independent territory of Hong Kong’s third taste of a WKC. He says the strength of their korfball is not centred on any one individual.
“We are fast, athletic and ambitious. Our strength is in our team work more than individual players. We are lucky to all live close to each other, so the squad trains together every week, and we have stepped up to prepare with more focus on Durban since January.
“We have trained hard and believe we have made a big improvement in the way we play. We can hope to be able to show that to the world in Durban, and catch the attention of the tournament,” he says.
Most of the players come from the New Territories and Kowloon districts in Hong Kong. They learned korfball when they were studying at secondary school, and have been playing together for over eight years.
Local growth of the profile of korfball has lifted the sport, and since 2017 the Hong Kong Korfball Association has received financial support from the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. This money has been used for several designated categories, including personnel, office expenses squad training, local competitions, training courses, school promotion and staff training.
Hong Kong’s government funding also contributes towards the association’s national squads programme. Ham says financial support to participate in international korfball has helped their preparation for the WKC.
“With the funding the association has received in the last two years, although the players still have to pay a portion, it is easier than it was in the past. However, we still have to figure out one problem: the players do not always have enough annual leave from their employers.
“Most of them have to save up all their leave to be able to play for Hong Kong and attend the different tournaments throughout the year. Sometimes we need to take leave with no pay. In the past, some of the players even had to quit their jobs because their employers wouldn’t give them enough time off work to travel and play.
“That attitude and commitment from our team mates gives us greater strength as a squad. We love our home, Hong Kong, very much, and it a great privilege to be able to represent our families, friends and community in international korfball,” he says.
Hong Kong is in a pool that also includes Belgium, England and Slovakia. Coach Warman Cheng is looking forward to the challenge of taking on the three European nations.
“While we are used to international korfball in our own region, and regularly play against Asian opponents, I think our first match against England should be a good indicator of our preparation for the WKC. We will see where we stand against an opponent that currently sits five places ahead of us in the IKF rankings and that we do not play regularly. Then we can make the next step for the coming matches, which of course, will also test us,” he says.
Fast, dynamic players with plenty of heart, a strong commitment to each other, and vibrant team spirit from having played together for several years will be the strength of Hong Kong in Durban this August, and will determine how well they pass the test.
#TeamHKG IKF WKC 2019
4: Wing Yan Tsang
5: Hiu Kwan Pang
6: Tim Tim Yau
8: Pui Man Amy Chow
9: Kwok Kuen Ham
13: Hei Laam Helen Fong
14: Tung Pak So
19: Ching Yu Chan
21: Tsz Fung Luk
26: Ching Wun Wong
31: Sung Pan Tse
50: Kai Yiu Fong
53: Tsz Chung Lee
77: Ching Yee Kwok
81: Tsz Kit Wong
88: Ka Chun Ma
Coach: Wai Ming Cheng (Warman)
Assistant Coach: Eugenio Ivan Aquino
Manager: Pok Ho Chong
Sports Trainer: Hei Man Wong (Crystal)