They say defence is key to the success or failure of a team. For the Hong Kong women’s national ice hockey team, that responsibility falls to goalkeeper Sumi Chau Nga-sze.
The 20 year-old HKU Space student tells Young Post about her role as the last line of defence, and her mission to keep the pucks out and promote ice hockey in the city.
“Ice hockey is definitely growing in Hong Kong,” says Chau, who started playing less than four years ago. Chau was introduced to the sport after joining a youth ice hockey programme organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG), which offered a more affordable way for young people to try the game.
Cut to February this year, and Chau featured in the senior Hong Kong team at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan. “Playing at the top with the women’s team was the best thing to happen in my life,” she says.
Hong Kong finished sixth in their group, but were involved in a nail-biting game against Thailand. “They were our greatest threat. The other countries in the group play in the Olympics, but we [and Thailand] are on a different level.”
The team lost 4-5, but Chau insists they left with their heads held high. “Although we lost, I felt it was a very good experience to play with top-level players,” Chau says, adding that the team skated well and were well organised throughout.
To play against the likes of Japan, South Korea and China was valuable experience for Chau, who has already achieved the best goalkeeper award in the Hong Kong Amateur Hockey league. “My goal is to be named best goalie in an international tournament,” she says.
Playing for the senior team at such a young age might have been daunting to most, but Chau thrives in such situations.
“I don’t feel too pressured. I just do my best to represent Hong Kong,” she reveals, insisting that some mental stress is normal when playing at such a high level.
Chau is a role model for younger ice hockey fanatics and wants to do everything she can to help.
Mega Ice Hockey 5’s provide a feast for fans
“There are more and more programmes for hockey’s new generation. I recommend any teen to give it a try,” said Chau, who featured at the successful Mega Ice Hockey 5s tournament earlier this year.
As a future star of the Hong Kong ice hockey world, Chau wants to ensure the sport carries on in the future.
Chau’s rise to the top of her sport was lightning fast, and while it may take a little longer for other aspiring players, she says anything is possible so long as they “grab every opportunity to practise, watch more hockey footage, and most of all, don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
What song/movie title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
Play Hard by David Guetta featuring Ne-Yo and Akon.
You can take the abilities of any animal during one competition. Which do you choose and why?
A lion. They are so strong and powerful – definitely a bonus for ice hockey.
What superstitions do you have before a big event?
I just keep calm. There’s no need to overthink when you’ve put in the work.
10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign-on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
Something to do with ice hockey goalie equipment.