Happy feet

Happy feet

A young footballer chose hard work with his friends over easy success to help his junior team qualify for the First Division under their own steam

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Adrian Fong Pak-lun is a dynamo both for La Salle College and his junior team
Adrian Fong Pak-lun is a dynamo both for La Salle College and his junior team
Photo: Edward Wong
This is a story about making choices. For most young footballers, being recruited to a First Division football club's junior team is a dream come true.

But not for football ace Adrian Fong Pak-lun. Adrian's skills with the ball earned him a spot on the junior team of a First Division football club. But he turned down the offer.

It's not that he didn't want to rise in the ranks as a player. But he hoped to do so by helping his friends on a district team claw their way up to the First Division along with him, too.

Adrian, a Form Five student at La Salle College who turns 18 on Thursday, was Hong Kong's youngest football player at the 2009 National Games. He concedes that playing for a top team would have brought some benefits, but says he didn't want to abandon his friends on his current team.

"We have been playing together for years since we started out [as children] on the team Cyber Wall Astro Boy," he says.

"Three years ago my friends and I joined the Sham Shui Po District Team. We set out to get promoted to the First Division."

But that wasn't so easy. The Sham Shui Po boys were playing in the Third Division and finished their first season only in third place, missing out on a spot to be promoted to the Second Division.

A season later, however, they did make it into Division Two. "We worked very hard and performed consistently well," Adrian says. "Step by step we got closer and closer to our goal" of reaching the First Division.

With only a couple of matches left this season in Division Two, the Sham Shui Po District Team has already secured a second-place berth - and with it qualification for the First Division. Mission accomplished! From next August, Adrian and his teammates will be playing among the best.

Despite his tight schedule of Division Two league matches, Adrian has also found time for his school's football team. With his help, La Salle College's team broke Diocesan Boys' School's dominance and recaptured the inter-school championship title.

Seemingly tireless, Adrian also competed successfully in the inter-school athletics tournament.

"I was the defending champion of the 400 metres hurdles, but I didn't run at full speed in the heats because I thought I'd secure a place in the final anyway," he says. "I was wrong. I finished only ninth in the overall ranking. That taught me a lesson: I will always have to compete to the best of my abilities."

The young athlete made up for his mistake by winning gold in the 4x400m boys' relay. As the last event of the day, it proved to be the decider that tipped the balance in his school's favour in the overall standings among boys' schools.

But the success of his two football teams - Sham Shui Po District Team and his school's team - means Adrian is now facing a dilemma.

He has already won four Most Valuable Player awards (U12, U14, U16 and U18) in the Nike Hong Kong Football Five championship. Yet even if his team wins the semi-final on April 16, Adrian may not be able to play in the final.

"The match will clash with our last Division Two match," he explains. "My coach and I will need to make a choice between the two games."

Now that he'll be playing in the First Division, Adrian's schedule will be even tighter than before. He'll need to take his HKDSE exam next year, even as he continues working his magic on the pitch game after game.

"I'll need to take a break after the first half of the new season [in the First Division] to prepare for my exams," he says.

"But I'll still have plenty of time to play [the rest of the season] once the exams are over."

So far his choices have turned out pretty well for him so he need not worry.

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