Last season only ended in May, but the new season will see Hong Kong’s participation in the Asian Cup brought forward to August, leaving the players with a tight rest and preparation schedule.
With the departure of Tai Po coach Lee Chi Kin, who led the team to a historic league title in 2019, the players will have to show their appreciation to the new coach for the opportunity to play in the new season.
The youngest player in the team, 19-year-old Kwok Chun Lok Nelson, has already renewed his contract with the club for a second year in the Priemier League. The right-hander has been widely praised by the Tai Po fans, especially the “Green Warriors” who have been supporting the team from the First Division to the Priemier League.
Due to a lack of funds, Tai Po applied for relegation to the First Division in 2020 and initially invited some good players to help them out. After the game, he received praise from Chan Siu-ki and Chan Wai-ho, saying, “I’m so happy that you’re so good.”
Since then, Kwok has been a mainstay of the team, playing over 30 matches a season, not only in the First Division, but also in training and matches for the youth team and U20 Fustal teams.
The previous season, Tai Po beat Sham Shui Po in the final of the First Division League Cup at Kowloon Bay Park to win the title. When we found out that the team was willing to invest in promotion, we felt that our dream had finally come true, but the real challenge had just begun.
Last season, many teams cut back on expenses and the first training session after promotion attracted many players who had not yet been promoted to try out their skills.
“I was so surprised, even though I already had a contract in hand, I was surprised to see many young players and young players, even foreigners, who had a lot of experience.
He was always a midfielder, idolised by the likes of Messi and Lam Ka Wai, but started out in the First Division with Coach Chan Yuk Chi playing on the wing and then in the Priemier League with Coach Lee Hang Wui trying out the right wing. He was used to playing on his feet and twisting and turning, and accepted his coach’s arrangement in order to get a chance to play.
Apart from his coaches Chan Yuk-chi and Tam Long-ming, Kwok also looks up to his older brothers such as Sze Kin Wai Ken and Li Hon Ho as role models: “Especially Wai, he is very small, but he is a hard worker and has a good taste for the game, he also helps me to adapt to my new position.”
On 17 September 2022, Tai Po took on KC Southern at Mong Kok Stadium in an Sapling Cup match. Kwok was probably too nervous to sleep as he was scheduled to be in the regular team for the pre-match drills.
In a match that attracted nearly 1,000 fans, he was assigned to guard Hardikpreet Singh, also a U22 player, in the first half and was barely able to cope with the situation; however, in the second half, when Southern changed their defence to Shu Sasaki, the opposing team’s star player, his speed made him tired and tired of the rhythm of a professional match for the first time. In the end, Tai Po lost by one goal to Southern.
Want to be seen
Kwok, who lives in the North District, fell in love with football after the 2012 European Cup. After Kwok’s mother bought the first pair of pompoms, she participated in the summer youth football promotion, and then joined the U10 training in the North District through selection. Two years later, Kwok wanted to improve his level, so he went to Tai Po to participate in the selection. “In the past, I always lost against Tai Po when I played games. In addition, I often watch Tai Po’s games on TV, so I really want to join the youth team of a professional football team to improve my level.”
After the team transfer, everything went smoothly. However, after Tai Po U13 changed coaches, his opportunities to play were greatly reduced. He became lazy after often playing as a backup. After being frustrated on the football field, he once wanted to switch to basketball development, but his chances increased after he became U15.
In order to improve his skills, he took the initiative to propose to the coach to participate in the U16 drill immediately after the U15 drill, doubling the amount of training in disguise. Later, he wanted to receive more systematic training, and then transferred to South China U15 on his own. Pu refused to recommend me, so I recommended myself to participate in the selection, and finally successfully joined the U17 futsal team.”
At that time, the South China youth training was sponsored by Lam Tai Fai, and Kwok also fulfilled his desire to receive more systematic training, especially when the famous U15 training Poon Yiu Cheuk often attended the supervision, which was very motivating for him. But God’s will, in 2021, Lam will no longer sponsor South China’s youth training after his contract with uth China expires. Kwok returned to the Tai Po team and has played for him to this day. Poon also moved to the UK later.
In the past season, Kwok played a total of 16 games in professional competitions including the main draft and backup, scored one assist, and successfully renewed his contract with Tai Po. The 8 games that were selected to play were all Sapling Cup. He became the main force of the team in this competition and was also recommended by the team as the best U22 player. In the coming season, in addition to continuing to enter the team to participate in the regular lineup of the Sapling Cup, he also hopes to fight for opportunities to play in the league.
“The teams in Hong Kong often change coaches, so even if one coach recognizes you, the next coach will have to express himself again after taking office… Fighting for yourself to be “seen” is the biggest challenge as a Hong Kong player .”
Although his family has no objection to him chasing his dream of professional football, and will support every game from the First Division to the Priemer League, they also require that he must go in parallel with his studies:
“Actually, I agree with this statement in my heart. The lives of football players in Hong Kong are always unstable. I used to think that players who are unlucky will first encounter situations such as dismissal and wage arrears, but I have experienced it in the youth team and the first division. , Going to the end of last season (2022-23), the team once again reported that they would withdraw from the Priemer League in the new season. At that time, they thought they would hang up their boots in the first year of their debut.”
“In the past, it may be said that parents did not want their children to play football, but today, many young players choose to give up on their own.”
The financial problem of the Tai Po team this season was later resolved, but the overall environment of professional football in Hong Kong is not stable for the dreamers:
“The football level and training in other places are better than those in Hong Kong. What I want most is to have the opportunity to go abroad. In fact, I don’t want to develop or anything. The main thing I want to go out is to improve. Even if I want to return to Hong Kong, there will be more opportunities. Now I still Young, if you have the opportunity to go to Thailand, Japan and other places to try your feet, you will definitely accept it without hesitation.”
|Name||Kwok Chun Lok Nelson|
|Pro team||WF Tai Po（2022-）|
(cover photo credit @_nk17_ )