Water won't stop them

Water won't stop them


Members of the under-16 squad show off their handball moves in San Po Kong.
Members of the under-16 squad show off their handball moves in San Po Kong.
Photo: Paul Yeung/SCMP
The Hong Kong boys' handball team members are facing lots of obstacles as they prepare for the Asian Youth Games.

Hong Kong's under-16 squad, comprising players who were born in 1996 or 1997, will travel to Nanjing later this month.

The boys have been drawn in Group D with South Korea, Syria and Kazakhstan.

The handball squad started their AYG training at the end of the Prague Handball Cup 2013 in the Czech Republic in April. But they have been hindered by poor weather over the past few months.

Due to insufficient indoor venues at night, the Handball Association of Hong Kong was only allocated the outdoor courts in Tsing Yi and San Po Kong for the boys' training. However, there has been so much rain since May, the courts have been slippery. To avoid injuries, players have had to suspend their practice.

Even on the day Young Post met the team at Choi Hung Road Park handball court, rain interrupted their training from time to time, and there was a heavy downpour an hour before the practice session ended.

Captain Sahib Singh Sandhu, 17, says his team still made good use of their time.

"When the court gets wet, we stay in the shelter next to the handball court and do our fitness training instead. We don't waste any of our training time even in the case of adverse weather," says Sahib, a Form Five student from Shek Lei Catholic Secondary School.

"We are going to face strong teams with outstanding fitness. South Korea is a medal favourite at the AYG while the other two [teams in our group] should have height and physical advantages over us. Therefore, we have been running a lot to improve our stamina and fitness."

There was more bad news for the team less than a month before the Games open. The first group stage match, which was originally scheduled for August 15, the day before the opening ceremony, will now be played on August 13, the day the Hong Kong team were due to arrive in Nanjing.

Coach Lee Ka-leung says the news from the organisers came very late.

"We booked our air tickets for August 13 and we tried to change the departure date once we got the news," says Lee. "However, the flights on August 11 are almost fully booked and we failed to get the whole team on board on the same day. We had no choice but to split the team into two. The first group will depart on the morning of August 11, while the others will arrive on the evening of August 12."

At the AYG boys' handball event, the top two teams of each of the four groups will advance to the quarter-finals. Each match consists of two 30-minute halves, with a 15-minute break in between.

Coach Lee hopes the team can overcome their strong rivals and reach the last eight.

"I want them to play against more teams at the Games. Reaching the quarter-final means they will have more encounters with the top teams in Asia, as they will have playoffs with the top eight even if they are defeated," he says.

Also, see Kevin's previews of Hong Kong's other representatives to the 2013 Asian Youth Games:

- Athletics
- Badminton
- Fencing
- Football
- Girls' rugby
- Golf
- Judo
- Rugby
- Squash
- Swimming
- Table tennis
- Tennis



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