Oliver Lam is living proof that when it comes to sport – and life in general – few things matter more than character.
In the space of a year, the 15-year-old South Island School student went from almost having to quit football, to becoming one of Hong Kong’s top young prospects in the sport.
Oliver, who has been a member of his school team as well as the Hong Kong Football Club for several years, started playing when he was four years old. “As soon as I heard about the sport, I started playing and fell in love,” he explained.
But he had two injury-riddled seasons, which nearly derailed his career.
“During the U13 and U14 seasons, I didn’t get much playing time,” he said. “I would say those two seasons are when I felt as if it was just going completely downhill for me.”
But this season he bounced back in a massive way – making the Hong Kong national team, and winning player of the year for the 2017/18 season at HKFC.
He also helped lead the club to their most successful season ever – where they became Hong Kong champions, and made it to the final 16 of the Gothia Cup – the biggest international youth football tournament, with around 200 teams playing from around the world. It’s one of the best results a Hong Kong club team has ever had in an international tournament.
His HKFC coach Stewart Montgomery was quick to sing Oliver’s praises. “He’s the first guy I call for out on the pitch,” he said. “Oliver is small, but he’s as tough as anybody, and he will go out there and take some hits from bigger players for our team, then get right back up and keep playing.”
And the respect is mutual, with Oliver crediting Montgomery for helping him make a turnaround.
“My coach has certainly made a huge impact through the season,” he said.