Lai Kak Yi, the main player in Sham Shui Po last season, will transfer to KC Southern in the coming season. This midfielder with civil engineer qualifications has just started pre-season training and is trying to adapt to KC Southern’s high-intensity training rhythm. Rather than judging whether to give up a high-paying job, I care more about whether my choice at this moment is satisfactory.
Primary Six has been selected for the Hong Kong team, and his achievements on the football field allowed him to enter La Salle College, a prestigious sports school; before Form Six faced DSE, Pegasus assistant coach Chan Yuen Ting invited him and several players to practice with the first team: ” I was very frightened when I arrived. The pressure on the players on the same line to practice was so great.
A taste of professional football
Like most people, Lai temporarily put down football in order to cope with DSE in sixth form. In the end, his test scores were not bad, and he successfully passed the athlete program to further his education because of his football career. However, he also stayed away from professional football and only played in junior college competitions. When I went to Year 2, Pegasus director Jackal Hiu suddenly came to follow me again: “At that time, some student players in the team were absent from practice, and a few people needed to prepare for practice, so they were called to follow up and play in the reserve group. Anyway, there were The income was agreed, and I didn’t even think about having the opportunity to play at first.”
Since Pegasus practice time is mostly in the morning, and he is already busy with university life and schoolwork, he feels very strenuous: “One time, it seemed that I was studying until too late at night, and the next morning I was very unfocused and kept losing waves. The foreign players inside were very angry, yelling at me and telling me not to practice. I was very disappointed at the time, and only Chan Pak Hang came to comfort me.”
In his second year with the Pegasus, the team’s recruitment and formation resources were relatively tight, so the young players in the team began to be reused. Li Geer, who had been with the Pegasus for half a year, became more and more effective and wanted to get a chance to play, but he But he has never been able to make the team roster. Although he had no chance to play, Kim Pan-Gon Joshua, the coach of the Hong Kong U23 team at the time, still selected him to join the team. Mr. Kim also hoped that Li Geer could continue to stay in the Hong Kong Super League, but in the end he chose to leave the professional football circle temporarily: “I have experienced professional football in the past year and a half, but it’s just not what I expected. I want to rest.”
After playing for Tin Yuk for one season, Yuen Long coach Kwok Kar Lok Kenneth invited Lai to join him in September 2018. This summer, he worked as an intern in an engineering company and completely missed the team’s pre-season training. This time he got the opportunity quickly: ” The first time I played as a backup was against Lee Man in Tseung Kwan O. In the end, the team won the game and I felt good. But when I played for the first time, I was surprised… I played Ye Bo at Yuen Long Stadium that day , and I also had to deal with Kitchee. During dinner in the afternoon, my opponent was shocked all the way…”
In the end, Lai successfully fought for 21 opportunities to play in the season, 15 of which were regular selections. Yuen Long also finished the HKPL in 7th place. However, the second season was hit by the epidemic and the league was suspended. In the end, Yuen Long gave up. Continuing to play in the HKPL: “The feeling of the season was very good, everything went smoothly, and I was even selected for the Hong Kong team for the Lunar New Year Cup. I thought I could wear the Hong Kong team’s jersey. In fact, I had already bought a plane ticket to travel to Taiwan at that time, and even canceled it on purpose. Unexpectedly, all the games were cancelled.” He later returned to his parent club Pegasus, but Pegasus followed Yuen Long and was relegated to Group C. This time, Lai made up his mind to leave professional football.
“Although there are job openings every year, I still really want to stay in professional football. At that time, teams contacted me. Maybe because of the poor economy, the salaries offered by all teams at that time were lower than before in Pegasus… It’s very shameful. I’m obviously playing well, why do I need to cut my salary?”
“I always feel that I am not a member of the football circle. I don’t talk a lot, and I don’t know the other players very well. But I have always kept the chance to play in Yuen Long, and as a regional team, Yuen Long has many fans. Enthusiasm, so the experience of this season and a half has overturned the previous thinking about professional football. But when I went to play Pegasus, my friends around me started to go back to work, but I was playing wave, and finally I had to reduce labor. Is it really true to be a football player? Is it suitable for you? Especially at that time, Pegasus was still in arrears with wages, but my girlfriend’s job was very stable, so I felt that still playing football seemed a bit unprofessional.”
Office buildings and construction sites
In fact, his girlfriend never minded Lai playing football. It’s just that after graduation, Lai had no “jobs” for his life, so he had to return to reality. He went to see a job with all kinds of frustrations on the court. Finally, Lai accepted an offer from an engineering company. And moved to Sham Shui Po to play amateur football.
“At that time, I categorically said that I would not go back to play professionally, but the life of returning to work is really monotonous. It is not suitable for ten years of life, and it is completely impossible to keep up with the rhythm of working half in an office building and half in the field. And I am the one who kicked the wave. The source of my confidence is that even when I play in the First Division, I feel like I’m not depressed.” However, Sham Shui Po performed well in the League Cup that season, and the team decided to be promoted to the Hong Kong Premier League.
“At that time, I had no intention of returning to work, and I didn’t want to do it until death. At the same time, I saw on TV that the Hong Kong team qualified to the Asian Cup , which made me want to return to my career, so I made a decision very quickly this time, even if it was artificial If you are lower than doing engineering work, you will still be kicked.”
As a result, this season became the worst season of his career: “At first, I thought I could give the fans some surprises…but as it turned out, I felt very powerless, even though I believed that the team should not be this bad…On my own side, I have been working out all the time and my condition must be worse than before, and it is the first time I have become the focus of the team, so I am a little unable to shoulder the responsibility of leading other young players. Maybe I am not used to being a leader.”
No way out
After going back and forth between professional football and amateur events, the 27-year-old Lai finally decided that he could not leave football in his life. After the end of last season, he didn’t look for a job again. He made up his mind to continue his football career. In the past two years, he also started working as a coach. Together with the salary of the club, it can be regarded as a sufficient income for living. After switching to Guanzhong South District, I practiced for two weeks at the beginning of the season. With higher quality players and higher training intensity, I feel that I have begun to improve, especially my teammate Keith as a learning object.
“Going out to work must be in poor condition, but I have hesitated too much in the past, such as often wanting to study for a master’s degree or change jobs. This time I come back to continue to use football as my career, and I will no longer give myself a retreat. So even if the competition in the Southern District I hope that I can improve under the influence of other players, and then get a chance to play.”
This age should have been the peak of his career, and he returned to the professional arena after a round of going round and round. Lai realized that the confidence lost on the court must be rebuilt on the court by himself: “I missed too much before, I hope I can Catching up with everyone’s pace and getting back to the top will make this season my golden season.”
|姓名||黎格爾 Lai Kak Yi|
Shum Shui Po（2021-22/2022-23）