Hong Kong played in its first World Championship in 2009 and then has been gradually improving ever since. I took the role as GM in 2013 and finally in 2017 achieved our goal!
The planning for 2017 started right away after a disappointing 2015. We learned that the team not only required skill on the floor but proper planning and preparation leading up to the tournament.
A handful of us lived in Edmonton and decided to form a team to improve our play together. From that team we also recruited new teammates. We not only played together but also trained and pushed each other to be better. We also frequently had in-person meetings as well as online meetings with the rest of the team members from around Canada and Hong Kong.
In 2016 we continued with Hong Kong team planning by securing a coach that helped plan meetings for strategy and plays. We also added a team manager, Terry Wong, to join us at the world championships and assist the team.
At the start of 2017 we hit some bumps in the road as we found out that our previous captain, Ricky Lee, from 2013 and 2015 could not attend and then top defender Binh Dang suffered a knee injury and would be out. A couple of weeks before we were to travel to Czech, our coach could not come due to work commitments.
We also found difficulty in getting support from our local communities as it was hard for them to relate to ball hockey. As well, our league in Hong Kong was not able to financially support the team either. Financially we were really tight and that led us to staying in the least expensive place in Pardubice. That being said we did raise some money on our own from raffle tickets which went to bringing our sports therapist Eleanor Miller.
Once we arrived in Pardubice, a handful of us were not able to get our gear from our flights and thus not able to take part in the first practice, when we finally did get our gear we were good to go.
Without a coach, injured player Binh Dang took over the role of running the bench while Terry Wong assisted. Our first 2 games went to a shootout which we lost and then our third game was a loss to the defending B Champs Haiti. We were all pretty down at that point and not feeling good about how things were going.
We knew we had to win every game from then on out. Some adjustments were made and despite the result of the Haiti game, we felt we were improving. The feeling that we had was similar to being down 0-3 in a 7 game series. It was not going to be easy but we simply decided to take it one game at a time. We rattled off 2 straight shutouts of 3-0 and 5-0 vs Bermuda and Lebanon. Our semi-final game was against the Cayman-Islands and we hung on to win 3-2.
All throughout the tournament the boys were focused on eating right and sleeping right. This was repeated before the final game against Great Britain. We were focused and throughout a hard-fought match, we managed to prevail 3-0.
It was amazing to reach our goal that we all had trained so hard and prepared for. I was amazed by the discipline that the team had and their focus throughout the past 2 years. I am very proud of everyone on the team and the sacrifices that were made.
We are also proud to present our accomplishment to the kids learning to play ball hockey in Hong Kong. It really means a lot for them to see what was achieved through hard work and dedication!