Ice hockey may not be as popular in Hong Kong as it is in Canada, but passion for the chilly sport still burns hot at the Canadian International School of Hong Kong (CDNIS).
This was clear to see when the majestic Stanley Cup came to the school last Wednesday. The cup is the championship trophy awarded to the National Hockey League champions in North America each year. Built in 1892, it is the world’s oldest professional sports trophy in the world.
Young Post caught up with the school’s top hockey players, who said they were in awe of the trophy, and hope to continue promoting the sport in Hong Kong.
Monica Shum, 17, who plays defence on the Hong Kong Women’s National Ice Hockey Team, has been playing the sport for an entire decade. “I am extremely proud because not many people get the opportunity to play for their country. It shows me what I can achieve from all the hard work I’ve put into the sport over the years.”
She said that although Hong Kong is still lagging when it comes to ice hockey, in Asian countries with colder climates – such as Japan – the sport is growing rapidly.
“Even in the few years I’ve played at the women’s level, I have seen it grow, with more women gaining interest in the sport. We now have coaches who have won Olympics medals to mentor us – not only as players, but as people, too.”
Her little brother, 15-year-old Michael Shum, represented Hong Kong at the U18 D3B IIHF World Championships in New Zealand earlier this year where he was selected as Most Valuable Player of the tournament, and was tied for most goals scored. Like his sister, he started playing from a very early age, and has been in love with ice hockey ever since.
“My favourite thing about ice hockey is there’s always action,” Michael said. “It’s fast-paced and you always have to be alert. I play a variet of sports including football, and the pace of the game is far slower. That’s why I prefer ice hockey over all other sports.”
Ice hockey, with its physical style of play, needs its players to be tough and nimble. Nobody knows this better than 16-year-old William Bognier who, because of his larger build, has the role of being “as aggressive as possible”.
“This job is usually known as ‘the enforcer’,” said William, who also plays for the national team and was drafted into the CIHL – the first full-contact hockey league in Hong Kong for adults.
“The pace, intensity, aggression, finesse, precision and motivation are things that make the game of hockey amazing,” he said. “This is not just a sport, it is a lifestyle.”
Finally, you’ll find few people more passionate about ice hockey than 16-year-old Elise Bland, who was invited to speak at the AsiaWorld-Expo at a TedX conference about the sport two years ago.
“I am proud to say that I play hockey overseas in Hong Kong,” said Canadian Elise, who was CDNIS’ Female Sportsperson of the Year last year.
“Hockey not only connects me to my country, but connects me to my team.”
Unfortunately, she isn’t able to play for the national team because of her Canadian passport. She, however, still trains with the team and has played a big role in promoting the sport in the city.
“When I first started playing hockey, there was only a handful of girls playing. Now, there are new programmes initiated by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey promoting the sport among locals.”