From a Grade C leader who failed to maintain her team’s winning streak to the captain who led Heep Yunn School to its third consecutive title at the All Hong Kong Schools Jing Ying Handball Tournament, Jasper Wong Yuet-ching has come a long way.
Heep Yunn, the defending champions, defeated Shun Tak Fraternal Association Leung Kau Kui College 13-11 in the girls’ division final on Sunday. While it was a momentous victory for her team, it meant even more to 16-year-old Jasper, who was inspirational during a game which featured plenty of highs and lows for her teammates. The Heep Yunn captain scored six goals, and was later named the Most Valuable Player in the girls’ category.
In a post-match interview, the Form Five student admitted the team’s morale hit rock bottom when their opponents began to narrow the gap, but she breathed a sigh of relief when they eventually pulled themselves together to edge out their rivals. “I was quite worried they would draw level, but we regained the team spirit by chanting some slogans and encouraged each other to carry on,” she said.
To Jasper, clinching a hat-trick of Jing Ying titles is not only a team achievement, but also a testament to her improved leadership skills, compared to what happened three years ago. At the time, the Grade C team captain was under immense pressure to win the inter-school trophy because Heep Yunn had dominated the event for years. But they lost to Diocesan Girls’ School (DGS) by a single goal in the semi-finals.
That painful defeat left an indelible mark on Jasper, who was 13 at the time. “I was so disappointed and I felt like an incompetent leader,” she recalled. “After that match, I began to doubt my ability as a player and as a leader. I once thought, no matter how hard I try, that I would never improve.”
It took Jasper a long time to realise what went wrong. She said her teammates were too reliant on her as a leader, and she also overestimated her ability to carry the team, which led to poor coordination and decision-making.
After spending more time with her teammates and seeking advice from her coach and more experienced players, Jasper now understands the key to becoming a good handball player and team leader. “You can never rely on one player, no matter how good she is,” she said. “As for handball, I used to think talent is the most important thing, but now I know training is what gives you the strength, speed and footwork.”
The match against DGS also taught her to never underestimate her opponents, and reminded her that victory is not guaranteed, regardless of how many times you have won before. Like most star athletes at Heep Yunn, Jasper plays many sports, including basketball, netball, cross-country, and athletics.
While she is happy to represent the school on multiple sports teams, she believes she may choose to specialise in only one, most probably handball, in university – and beyond. “I’m now part of the under-16 national handball team, but I hope one day I can become a member of the senior Hong Kong team,” Jasper said.