Hong Kong's ice hockey team achieves second victory at 14th National Winter Games
Published: Feb 21, 2024 02:13 AM
The Hong Kong team competes with the Tianjin team at the ice hockey group match on Sunday in Hulunbuir, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Photo: Li Hang/GT

The Hong Kong team competes with the Tianjin team at the ice hockey group match on Sunday in Hulunbuir, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Photo: Li Hang/GT

At the 14th National Winter Games in Hulunbuir, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the Hong Kong team clinched their second consecutive victory in men's ice hockey category (U18) group match by defeating the Jilin team with a resounding score of 9-3 on Tuesday.

This triumph follows their opening win against Tianjin on Sunday, where they secured a 4-1 victory. Speaking to the Global Times after the match, Under Secretary for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's Cultural, Sports, and Tourism Bureau Lau Chun, who is also leader of the Hong Kong delegation, praised the players' exceptional performance.

"The Hong Kong team's performance was commendable. I hope they can achieve even better results in the next matches and strive for higher rankings," Lau said.

However, this success didn't come easily. Even coach Kan Siu Him also said that he didn't expect the Hong Kong team to win at first. Unlike cities in northern China, Hong Kong does not have favorable conditions for winter sports due to natural constraints.

Besides, the team also faced difficulties including limited training time and high cost of equipment. Without dedicated ice rinks, the team has to rent space in shopping malls, with each hour costing HK$10,000, and the team practices for one and a half hours per week. The high cost needs to be shared by the players themselves. In preparation for the Winter Games, the team also underwent specialized training in Japan.

Wang Tsan Lam, 15, serves as both the sixth player and captain of the team. He has been honing his skills in ice hockey since the age of 5. Like him, his teammates are all around 15 years old and have played ice hockey from a young age.

During the interview, Wang attributed their success to "seamless teamwork". "I used to say that I was born for big moments in sport. Many teammates laughed at me, saying we wouldn't win this game. But before the match, I told my teammates that we must win, that we must believe in ourselves, and in the end we did it," He said.

Looking ahead, he expressed his goal of securing a top-four finish in the competition.

Many team members, including Tsam Lam Wang, have been studying in the Chinese mainland. Team manager Kan Yeung Kit told the Global Times that in recent years, there have been exchanges and collaboration between Hong Kong and the mainland in the realm of ice hockey.

Currently, Hong Kong has a comprehensive youth development program from U7 to U17 levels. Next month, the Hong Kong U18 team will compete in the IIHF World U18 Championship Division B. He hopes that the young team can gain valuable experience from their participation in the Winter Games.

With a delegation of 40 athletes participating in three events - figure skating, boys' ice hockey, and alpine skiing - the Hong Kong team is making its mark at the National Winter Games for the sixth timesince the delegation's inaugural participation in 1999.

At the 13th National Winter Games held in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in 2016, the delegation secured a bronze medal in the figure skating women's singles (free skating) event, which also marked Hong Kong's first medal at the National Winter Games.

Lau hopes that support for the Hong Kong team will foster greater interest in winter sports among the special administrative region's youth.

"I hope that by supporting the Hong Kong team, people in Hong Kong can have a deeper understanding of winter sports, and the younger generation can develop more interest in winter sports. If the popularization goes well, we can also have better facilities," Lau said.

As Hong Kong will co-host the 15th National Games with the Macao Special Administrative Region and Guangdong Province in 2025, Lau also hopes tolearn from Inner Mongolia about how to organize large-scale sporting events.