During professional matches and international matches held by the Hong Kong Football Association, there will be “Ball Person” assistants in every game, which is also their official job title on the stadium.
Among them, Timothy Wu is the one with the longest seniority of the active ball person in the last season. This ball person who has played for 13 seasons and worked as a bus driver, was recruited with the mentality of watching free games from the beginning. His working career The first match was the League One match between Sun Hei and Tai Chung at the Tsing Yi Stadium in 2010-11. He has participated in various local and international competitions. He used to work in games with world-class stars such as Diego Forlán and Ferrando Torres, and his working career was longer than that of many football players.
Hong Kong’s professional tournaments will arrange 11 waves, of which 10 will be placed by the manager on the sidelines for backup. According to Wu’s recollection, most of the games before the COVID-19 epidemic would have 10 managers on standby at different positions on the court: “Under normal circumstances, it is early and early selection, but if more newcomers join at the beginning of the season, usually an old person will be arranged to lead a newcomer, and teach some skills and precautions.”
“For example, when the opponent is attacking and is rescued by the goalkeeper, theoretically, the ball person behind the goal should see the ball pointing to the corner flag, and the ball person on the sideline closest to the corner flag will hand the wave to the football who is about to take the corner kick player, and the other is responsible for picking up the ball.
However, if you are not familiar with the rules of the game, or do not concentrate on watching the game, and hand over the wave to the goalkeeper after holding the wave, the goalkeeper may delay the time. For yourself, if you go to the end of the game, it may cause more controversy. If there is VAR in the future, you must pay more attention to the ball card gestures. “
Due to the high speed of professional football, when the ball goes out of bounds, if the player returns the ball in a short time and then takes a throw-in, he can immediately perform a fast break; on the contrary, if he cannot immediately take a throw-in or a corner kick, the chance of quick kick is reduced in disguise. It may even directly affect the progress of the game.
The seemingly inconspicuous position, but because of being on the court, can intervene and even promote tactics. When players and fans are in high spirits during the game, the ball person has become the target of everyone to vent.
“Some defenders and wing players often complain that we are slow to pick up the ball, but after a wave goes out of bounds, there may actually be a chance to bounce back into the field, or the coach, reserve players, and fans will quickly return the ball to the field.
If we throw the ball into the field without waiting for the out-of-bounds wave to stabilize, there may be two balls on the field; One of our responsibilities as ball persons is to ensure that there is one, and only one, ball in play at any one time. “
There are often coaches and players who complain on the spot after losing a game. He has also tried to be sent a letter to complain: “In May this year, after the last round of the Hong Kong HKPL match between Lee Man and Kitchee, I wanted to return the football to the stadium. I kept yelling to ask the fans not to kick away, and to stop the fans from rushing into the field. During this period, I had an argument with some fans. Immediately after returning to the passage, I was scolded by Lee Man’s fans again, and then there was another round of quarrel. I was asked to explain.”
During the COVID-19 epidemic, when the match was held at the Tseung Kwan O Football Center, the Football Association still arranged for 10 ball persons per game, but after the epidemic, only 4 or 6 ball persons were arranged for each wave. The ball is held by the person. Later, due to epidemic prevention requirements, some backup balls will only be placed on the flying saucer for later use. In any case, the current manpower for each game is less than before, which greatly increases the workload of the ball person.
“Also, the substitute players come out to practice at halftime. Most clubs use their own footballs, except HKFC. They use match balls for practice. Before the start of the second half, the substitute players only kick the ball out of the sideline. We Sometimes it may not be possible to return all the backup balls to their original positions in time until the start of the game.”
In addition to wave handling, ball person also has a lot of chores to do on and off the field. The most familiar thing is to pull the flag before the start of an international competition. Usually, a large flag requires 6 people, a thin flag requires 4 people, and two national flags/regional flags plus FIFA/AFC flags and Fair Play flags may require 20 people. In addition, the ball person sometimes has to help move materials before and after the wave, and even help to count the number of people at the box office when necessary.
In his 13-year career, Wu’s two most memorable games were the Hong Kong team games: “One of them was the Hong Kong team’s World Cup Qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Siu Sai Wan. Participating in the Premier League Cup, many players in the Hong Kong team have no intention of playing. Only Chan Wai Ho is encouraging the players. Maybe because of the poor performance and the ugly loss, the most memorable thing is that the fans in the stands rioted. In the middle, I ran 100 meters to the players’ tunnel, weeping and scolding the players after the game.”
“One and a half years later, in the Asian Cup Qualifier against Vietnam, Chan Wai Ho scored a goal in the 87th minute to defeat Vietnam, and then felt the whole pitch shake on the grass. “
After working for 13 years, he does not recommend young people to enter the industry: “If you treat it as a speculator, it’s okay…Although you can watch free games in wave handling, the labor is too low. When I first started, it was $160 One session, now it is $220 per session. And it will take up precious Saturday and Sunday afternoon time… Just imagine: If your girlfriend wants to date you to watch local waves on Saturday afternoon, but you tell her: ” You go to the auditorium to watch the waves, I want to work.’ This is impossible, so most ball persons are single dogs, and only single people can do this job.”
The FA Cup (Junior) match in Siu Sai Wan on 8th July was his last match of the season, and it may also be a farewell match in his career: “In the past, the FA started recruiting players one month after the end of the season, and half a year before the start of the season. A letter will be sent out to confirm the appointment, and then a briefing session and equipment will be held for the ball person. However, the coming season will be opened early, and the website has not yet seen the recruitment form for the ball person for the coming season, so it is uncertain whether the next season can continue unknown.”
“In recent years, it has often been rumored that the Hong Kong Super League will want to arrange ball personnel by itself, which may be outsourced (in the past, some international matches held in the middle of the week have arranged for students to handle the ball), and even heard some club executives talk about finding jobs for the youth army. Because the expenses of managing Bozai are all paid by the home club, it is normal for clubs to want to reduce costs.”
There are no clear rules for coaching career. There are rumors that the Football Association prefers to only hire ball persons aged 16-25. For Wu, being able to work for 13 seasons is considered profitable: “Many other people have changed careers during the same period, or directly joined the Football Association to do the job. Full-time. But as long as the Football Association continues to invite me, I will continue to coach until the Football Association does not invite me. There is no way, I can’t extricate myself from Hong Kong football.”