Remi Dujardin is on his way to becoming a full-fledged football star in the US, but will always be proud to represent our city.
“Hong Kong is my true home – I was born and bred here and I have lived here my whole life,” the 20-year-old told Young Post. “It [always feels special] to wear the red Hong Kong jersey, and it is always an honour to play for my country.”
He got a chance to do so this summer when he was called up to play for the Hong Kong Under-23 squad. He soon established himself as a stand-out player despite being one of the youngest on the team.
“I haven’t played for Hong Kong since [U19 level] because of my football commitments in the US, so it was [great] to play for Hong Kong again.”
He helped lead the team to an unbeaten three-game run during the Asian Football Confederation U23 qualifier tournament in July, including a 4-0 domination of Chinese Taipei.
They also managed a draw against a very strong North Korean team, which Dujardin called his most memorable football achievement to date. “After the game against North Korea, the team was extremely happy because we had managed to take a point off a very good team while playing in front of 20,000 hostile fans,” he explained. “It was an amazing moment and atmosphere, and for me, playing 90 minutes against them showed me that my hard work in the US over the past two years is paying off.”
Dujardin is on a sports scholarship while studying marketing at Saint Bonaventure University in New York. Playing there has helped elevate his game to new heights. “The game in the US is a lot faster and a lot more physical compared to Hong Kong,” he explained.
The former French International School student intends to pursue a professional football career after graduating. Although his ultimate dream is to play in the Spanish La Liga, he is open to playing in other leagues, including the American Major League Soccer or coming back home to play.
“I feel like the league [in Hong Kong] is more professional now with every game being televised,” Dujardin explained. “It is getting more attention from the media and there seem to be more people at games and more talk about local football on social media.”
He believes the quality of play in our city is also improving.
“From a technical standpoint, football in the US and Hong Kong are on the same level. US players are just more athletic,” Dujardin said. “But from what my friends in the [Hong Kong] league have been telling me, the teams are much more invested in the players’ well-being. There are more strength and conditioning coaches and an emphasis on nutrition to keep players at their best.”
Dujardin had some advice for teens looking to break into football. “It may sounds clichéd, but I would tell young players to give their all in every situation because you never know who is watching. It only takes one good performance for a player’s career to change.
“I would also say don’t ever let a setback define you. Learn from it, and use it as motivation to become a better player.”
Dujardin will represent Hong Kong at the 2018 Asian Games to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia next summer.