Eyes on the ball

Eyes on the ball

Jason Chan's silly pranks nearly cost him his future, but he worked hard to focus on his game

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Shooting guard Jason Chan will represent Hong Kong at next week's 6th Asian Schools Boys Basketball Championships in Beijing.
Shooting guard Jason Chan will represent Hong Kong at next week's 6th Asian Schools Boys Basketball Championships in Beijing.
Photo: Thomas Yau
After seven years working at his sport, basketball player Jason Chan Chung-yeung has found a happy ending: the ugly duckling has turned into a swan.

The 18-year-old Form Six student at Buddhist Tai Hung College will represent Hong Kong at the 6th Asian Schools Boys' Basketball Championships in Beijing next week.

Yet the shooting guard was not always a model player, and several incidents when he was younger almost put an end to his sporting hopes.

As a Form One student, Jason enrolled in the Young Basketball Athletes Training Scheme run by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Hong Kong Basketball Association, and attended a summer training camp.

These camps are a chance for budding stars to show their potential and talent to coaches, who make selections for the youth divisions of top clubs or even the Hong Kong youth team.

Jason made his presence felt, but not in a good way. "I played a prank on my roommates at the dormitory when they were sleeping," Jason said. "The day after they took their revenge by pouring noodles on my bed. I was angry and I complained to the coaches."

Jason had sometimes misbehaved in previous training sessions outside the camp and had never suffered heavy punishment, but this was the last straw for his coaches. "They wanted to kick me and the other players involved out of the camp as we'd disturbed the other boys," he said. "I cried and begged to stay."

The boys were required to write an essay on the right attitude for a basketball player and do extra workouts.

Jason joined the youth basketball team New Wild after the camp. He soon found himself paying a much bigger price for his moment of excitement.

"I participated in the selection for the Nike All-Hong Kong Youth Basketball League three times from Form Two to Form Four, but I was never picked to play for any of the delegation teams," he said.

"At first I questioned my own ability, but then the coaches told me that my image had been affected by the camp incident and they were not confident I would fit into their teams.

"I had been working very hard to show others I was mature and no longer a troublemaker, but it did not seem to be any use. After finding out why I always missed out, I really wanted to give up."

Fortunately, Jason took a one-month break from basketball to think about what to do next.

"I had a chat with my coach Edward Cheng Kwok-wai at New Wild and his words were encouraging," he said. "He still had confidence in me and named me the team captain."

Jason bounced back and took his game to a higher level. As captain, he twice led his school team to the finals of the Inter-school Basketball Competition (Division Three, Kowloon Area One). In the 2010-2011 final they took won the title and this season were runners-up.

Jason also led New Wild to win the first runner-up trophy in the 12th LCSD Cup Basketball Championships (men's 18-and-under category). "I love the sport and I knew I would not give up because of what other people thought of me," he said.

Finally, he has earned a call-up to the Hong Kong Schools Basketball Team. He will fly to Beijing to play at next week's Sixth Asian Schools Boys' Basketball Championships with 11 other players, together with six coaches and officials.

"It was a thrilling moment when I got the Hong Kong team jersey from my coach," Jason said. "My hands shook and I couldn't tear my eyes away from it. It took me a while to get here and the path was indirect, but I've finally realised my dream."

Now the shooting guard has a new goal. "I want to fight to get more court time in the tournament," he said. "And when I'm not on court, I will make sure I pay close attention to how our team and the opponents' team are playing. This is the right attitude for a basketball player."

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