From the beginning… I got a hold of Jay Wich from jjthreads.com and he informed me of lacrosse things happening during the time I was in China. Luckily I was able to make it to one of their practices. Practice was held in a sports complex with multiple turf fields encircled by a large horse racing track. One breathtaking aspect of the complex was the scenery; one side had single-family homes perched on steep hills, and the other side were mile-high apartment complexes and business buildings. The Hong Kong national team had a game scheduled for the afternoon but they had to cancel it due to player shortages. Most of the national team players come from one of the major Hong Kong universities, with the average player having 4 years of playing experience and some have as much as 12 years (usually they come from the US.) As a growing sport in a city/country that is unaccustomed to lacrosse, most of the lacrosse teams in Hong Kong struggle to find available times for practice. The teams usually have to paint their own temporary lines on the field because the average turf field in Hong Kong is only marked for soccer or rugby. Due to the lack of space in the city, their goals have to be collapsible as well. The team does travel a lot, with games in Beijing, Singapore, and Korea, but they are not funded so all costs are paid out of their own pockets. For a fledging sport, the native players certainly have a good amount of skill despite the lack of structured programs (like high school JV/varsity, club ball, pee wee ball, etc)
As a person who grew up in MD, there was no shortage of lacrosse culture or lacrosse games at any time of the year. To go to a new place like Hong Kong and not even hear a whisper about lacrosse is surprising, they don’t even have Chinese characters assigned for the word “Lacrosse.” It’s easy to take things for granted when you grow up in MD; players in Hong Kong don’t have things as easy/convenient as we do and it makes me all the more grateful of the opportunities available in a hotbed state.
Bobby Kwan is former VP and current player (of 3 years) for UMBC Mens Club Lacrosse. Please feel free to follow the Retrievers by clicking https://www.facebook.com/UMBCMensClubLacrosse