Hong Kong’s going the World Cup in Ireland 2017
Massive congratulations to all the players and coaches.
What an amazing achievement. So totally proud of you all!!
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Shanghai Tang held it’s annual Christmas party, this year entitled The Golden Ginko, on the 8 December in Central. Amidst the shopping there was eggnog, mulled wine, champagne pong and VR games to bring on the Christmas feeling. A good time was had by all.
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This week Hong Kong’s women stand on the brink of a stunning achievement, qualification for the rugby World Cup. Not now and perhaps never again will Hong Kong have a better chance in a global team sport to reach a World Cup.
Ardent HongKonger that I am, I’m also a realist and unless the new Messi is a HK resident Hong Kong are sadly never going to make the football World Cup. Nor sadly, however much money is pumped at them, will our men’s rugby team – much as I’d love to see them qualify – with the current format there are simply too many countries ahead of us.
Recognition should be made here of the HK men’s cricket team who qualified for the last two T20 World Cups and with the current crop of super talented youngsters both male and female could well do so again – but cricket is not yet a truly global game.
Rugby is a global game and with the popularity of the Sevens at the recent Olympics growing fast. This is what makes our women’s potential achievement so amazing. Especially as they are playing not only the opposition but also the blatant sexual discrimination and lack of interest within their own male dominated Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU).
When the Hong Kong football team played their World Cup qualifiers last year, the HKFA advertised heavily, produced posters, banners creating a buzz and a massive awareness in both traditional media and online. Everyone, whether you were a football fan or not, knew the matches were coming.
The extent of the HKRU’s marketing is one ugly banner, the first published version of which hadn’t even been proof read and had Hong Kong playing Fiji twice. Even the recent men’s rugby Cup of Nations competition was advertised on a tram and accompanied by numerous articles, banners, tweets… There’s one ugly banner for the Women’s World Cup Qualifier.
The first two games of the World Cup Qualifier are being played at King’s Park which is frankly nothing more than a school playing field and a complete pain for fans to get to. Why are the games not being held at Mongkok Stadium – which with even basic marketing could have been a noisy sell-out – or at any of the other LCSD grounds which at least have a grandstand where the crowd can really get behind their team and help lift them to qualification? It’s frankly embarrassing to have such important matches played at such an amateur ground.
It’s frankly disgusting that the HKRU promotes rugby as a game for all – yet as you can see the Women’s World Cup Qualifier isn’t even listed in their upcoming events! There are more articles on the HKRU website about the New Year’s Day Youth Tournament, than the women’s national team being one step from playing at the World Cup.
The sexual bias at the HKRU is sadly not just limited to the national level, where HK’s women professional rugby players are paid far less than their male counterparts (none are willing to comment on the record, such is the petty vindictive nature of the male dominated culture that permeates the HKRU), but extends to club level.
The HKRU made a big deal at the start of the new season about a sponsorship deal for women’s rugby one part of which, as can be seen published on the HKRU website includes a live video stream of the women’s Premiership game of the week. Look online you can find extensive video coverage of the men’s Premiership. There’s video of women’s first games of the season (all the matches were played consecutively at King’s Park), where are the rest? Will KPMG the sponsor complain? No chance. Many of it’s senior HK management are rugby old boys and it heavily sponsors the mens game.
The HKRU is perhaps the wealthiest sports organisation in HK, it’s 2014 financial returns show assets of around $250million and it extravagantly funds the men’s game. It’s sad that they are so blind to the women’s game where the potential for great things exists.
Let’s hope that the 26 women picked for the squad can take that final step and make the World Cup. Perhaps then the old men running the game will take notice – but then again, probably not as there’s nothing in it for them other than trying to steal the spotlight from the women who made it happen.
Hong Kong’s women need your support, lend you voices and your presence head to Kings Park, 7pm tonight and cheer them on against Fiji!
An evening of crafted cocktails at The Envoy from Dave Lam and Naoya Mizugishi, Champions of the Chivas Masters 2015/2016 Cocktail Competition in Hong Kong and Japan respectively!
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Local women’s rugby players prepare for the two most important games in Hong Kong’s rugby history as national coach Jo Hull prepares her Hong Kong squad for the World Rugby Women’s Rugby World Cup qualifier.
The triangular tournament sees Japan and Fiji taking part with the two top-placed finishers advancing to next year’s World Cup in Ireland. Hong Kong will play Fiji on 9 December (7pm) at King’s Park and Japan on 17 December (4:30pm) at Hong Kong Football Club.
With the top two teams advancing, a win over Fiji would be a huge step toward Hong Kong qualifying for its first ever fifteen-a-side rugby World Cup but Hull cautions that Hong Kong will still need to find another gear to achieve what would be a transformative result for the local women’s game.
“It is an amazing opportunity to qualify and have a chance to play in a World Cup. Our job as a national team is to inspire and connect with young girls and women. We want them to aspire to play for Hong Kong and to do that you need to put up some performances,” Hull said.
With those performances in mind, Hong Kong finalised a build-up campaign that was unprecedented in its scale and intensity, with two matches against Kazakhstan last month. Hong Kong won both.
“I was pleased with the Kazakhstan games, but we still need to play 20 percent better against Fiji to get the result we’re after. Kazakhstan are good and playing against them showed us we still have some things to work on to be ready for the coming matches, particularly, our commitment in the tackle area against bigger players and that is something we are focusing on,” Hull noted.
Hull said that while there were significant positives, the challenge is set to intensify: “The Qualifiers represents a level that the girls have never played at before. We need players who will go into battle and I think we have the right combination with some new, young players coming through plus experienced players like the sevens girls and our forwards group.”
“But we’re under no illusion that we’re the finished article. Our job is to keep getting better and that’s what we’re all about; we’re not going to be content with average performances,” Hull said.
Hull is confident she has the players to achieve this singular sporting feat in her 26-woman squad, which is notable for the absence of some longstanding Hong Kong representatives.
“There are some top-class players not selected and I think that is both a credit to the players coming through and also partially because of the style we want to play. We need players who can get in amongst it, play with a lot of tempo and heart, and are skilful and can withstand the pressure ahead.”
Despite the absence of some multi-capped players, Hull has been able to select a highly experienced group with 25 of the 26-person squad capped previously, including 21 players from the Tour of Spain last December and the Asia Rugby Championship earlier this year.
Hull is most pleased with the process that has been put in place to get the team to this point: “I’ve seen a huge turnaround in women’s rugby since I arrived 18 months ago. At a national level, we have grown from a six-week to a 10-month programme, with regular analysis and a big emphasis on strength and conditioning. The players have really bought into that and I think we are starting to see the first glimpses of results now,” Hull noted.
“I’m pleased with the 26 we have got. We started with 40 players and made some tough decisions along the way and we’re really proud of our selection process, which has been very thorough.”
“Accountability is at the forefront of everything we are doing. Every one of those 26 players know that they have to keep performing, otherwise someone else is taking their spot,” Hull said.
Hull has incorporated 12 members of the Hong Kong Sevens team into the squad, injecting their professional-class speed and fitness into the equation, while also bringing a dose of much-needed experience playing against world-class women’s teams; all essentials if Hong Kong hope to step up against the likes of Fiji and Japan.
Inspirational second-rower Chow Mei-nam will again captain the side, leading an experienced group of forwards who will be called upon to do some heavy lifting in what is expected to be a physical contest with Fiji in the opener.
“Mei Nam is now in her second year of captaining the team. She leads by example in everything she does, on and off the pitch,” said Hull.
“Against Kazakhstan she had the highest positive involvement across both games, which is exactly what you want from your captain and really shows how she leads by example. She has only been playing for three years and continues to improve every game, which epitomises our team philosophy,” Hull added.
Jessica Ho Wai-on is the only uncapped player included in the 26-woman squad. The fiery young scrumhalf is likely to earn her first cap against Fiji, either starting or off the bench, as she complements Lindsay Varty, the second scrumhalf in the squad.
Hull, who has coached with Scotland at previous World Cups, believes this group of players has what it takes to get to the next level and will produce a performance that will make Hong Kong proud.
“Going to a World Cup is an experience you will never replicate in any other part of your life. When and if we get there, these girls will give their heart and soul to every minute of that and that is all that you can ask of them,” Hull said.
Hong Kong Squad, Women’s Rugby World Cup Qualifier
Chow Mei-Nam (Captain), Amelie Seure^, Chan Ka-Yan, Chan Leong-Sze^, Chan Tsz-Ching, Cheng Ching-To, Cheng Ka-Chi, Cheung Shuk-Han, Christine Gordon^, Lau Nga-Wun, Lee Ka-Shun, Melody Li Nim-Yan^, Winnie Siu Wing-Ni, Karen So Hoi-Ting, Wong Yuen-Shan, Adrienne Garvey^, Chong Ka-Yan^, Colleen Tjosvold^, Jessica Ho Wai-On*, Rose Hopewell-Fong, Ivy Kwong Sau-Yan^, Lau Sze-Wa, Lee Tsz-Ting^, Lindsay Varty^, Natasha Olson-Thorne^, Yuen Lok-Yee^.
^ HKSI elite Sevens athlete; * potential Hong Kong debut
Vishal Nanda is a writer and spoken word performer, as well as an indie game designer, teacher, and editor. He spends his time writing poetry, scripts, screen plays, plays, short stories, novels and the like, as he cannot quite help himself.
How long have you been involved in poetry? I’ve been writing sort of poetry since I was thirteen, if you could call what I used to write ‘poetry’. It would be more accurate to say that I was trying to write poetry. I am hesitant to call what I write poetry, or to call myself a poet.
It’s quite a grandiose declaration because for good or ill ‘poetry’ still has pretentious connotations. If we had another word for it in English, with the sense that you’re part of a rather large group of aspiring writers maybe in training, that could excise the pretence from the term, like writing ‘pooms’, then that would be more accurate.
Writing pooms was a solo thing for a long time, completely devoid of connection to a larger community, till I ‘joined’ Peel Street. Since then I’ve been writing far more than I have in the past, with far more opportunities to get read or listened to, so in terms of dedicating more time to poetry, I would have to say since joining Peel, which was about three years ago. Since then I’ve been lucky to have more opportunities to write and perform, and it all started with Peel.
Where do you get the inspiration for your writing? This is a crazy question. It would be hard enough to answer if you were referring to one specific piece I’ve written, let alone for writing as a whole. What was I thinking at the time? What series of events throughout my entire life, my childhood, all the media I have ever consumed, led to me producing that piece of work? How did I have the time to do it? What was I feeling back when I wrote it?
There’s a way to bypass the question entirely, and the assumption behind it, of the creator having agency in the cause. People are computers who take input, all the input our gloriously unique minds are capable of taking as the most powerful processing machines in the known universe, and then output something, like dick in the box, or Game of Thrones, or poetry. Although we have agency in the process we are far from objective observers of that process.
That said, if I had to give a tidier answer then I would abide by something Neil Gaiman said, which I paraphrase as ‘You walk by a dozen stories everyday. A writer notices at least five of them.’ In other words, there are stories and ideas everywhere, and it’s a matter of observation both internally and externally to recognise them.
And although I’m saying there is a lack of agency I don’t think there is a lack of craft. I use Evernote for everything, which means I can write on my phone, my Ipad, my desktop, whatever, it all goes to the same place, and if I have an idea I write it down, I file it away, whether I’m walking or sitting at home. I think there are two extremes for me when it comes to how I end up writing something, with a lot in the middle. I want to emphasise that I’m an amateur.
On the grandscale of global writers I’m just another guy on the cliff hoping to make his way up, but I think there’s some value then in telling you my work ethic, of the method in attempting to climb the cliff because it’s probably similar to a lot of other people who are trying but haven’t quite made it. I write all my ideas down. Sometimes I’ll have an abstract idea that I need to craft into a story- I had one about how children and what might be considered ‘the delusional’ have a lot in common, but how do I contain that in an actual narrative?
So I try to build something, which sometimes takes time, it takes outlines and planning and experimentation and editing. Or I had one about a guy who was ‘time displaced’ and could feel the past of any place he was at and I run with the idea, I imagine being that character and I take the story to it’s logical conclusions.
I don’t believe in writer’s block, my rule is that if I can’t figure out a problem, I’m only allowed to quit if I’ve sat in front of a desk and stared at the page for half an hour to an hour and truly come up with nothing, which I honestly think is a rarity. I try to abide by that rule.
On the other hand, especially with poetry, I’ve found that moments where I’m really emotional, often negatively, at those times writing out a poem is therapy, an itch, I have to get it out there because I feel like I’m going crazy, it’s like taking the chaos of an unformed internal monologue and shaping it into something, and times like those are times where it just flows out in one go.
So it’s both extremes, but I believe in the end it’s consistent work and the determination to see an idea to it’s end, no matter how crap the product, with the faith that it’s still practice and it still counts.
How does Hong Kong influence your writing? It upsets me. It’s not exactly an ideal place, though it is idolised when it comes to safety, or the MTR or cheap, delicious food. I think a lot of writing, especially in English, when it comes to Hong Kong, attempts to focus on defining the place with the awareness that it’s unique. So that enough readers not familiar with it will find it compelling, it’s like travel writing.
I don’t want to write like that. I think there is a lot of isolation, a lot of unhealthy relationships, toxicity and loneliness here and I think that this is far from limited to this city.
I try to find the universal in the specific, rather than denying what is universal by focusing on the specific. Hong Kong, in the context of us as a species, is a remarkable trailer of a future to come. It has one of the largest income gaps in the world, a disgusting amount of people living in poverty juxtaposed with stratospheric decadence, rampant pollution and corporate-timescale-level-thinking (that is, in quarters, which is somewhat problematic when it comes to climate change), the highest average IQ and life expectancy in the world, cutting edge technology harnessed to make you buy shit you do not need, and a disturbingly high suicide rate among children who don’t fit the requisite mould.
I grew up here and frankly it makes me angry. I also love it, it is my home, and I’ve written celebratory pieces about it too. This is too big of a question to answer; how does Hong Kong influence my writing? If I have to sum it up, I’d say as a living computer I am forced to process it in all it’s neon madness, and that I’d hate to write about fields full of sheep instead.
The amount of silence in such a noisy place is mind boggling. So few people have an actual voice, instead we are bombarded with manicured ads and artificial TV shows claiming to define our existence in Hong Kong. Everywhere you look in Hong Kong, on the walls, on buildings, on magazine covers everywhere, there are words telling you how to be or think, via telling you what to buy, or what is considered of value and this gets to people, this affects us.
In Hong Kong, I try to consider what isn’t being said, but from my very, very narrow perspective. There’s a hell of a lot of noise here. I think a lot of writing at the moment is focused on articulating a perspective that can then be cozily placed in a category like ‘culture’ or ‘gender’ or some space from which the consumer and creator can feel comfortable in being associated with.
What is lost in that movement is the attempt to discover the universal, or even admitting that the state of us as a globalised species, like our genes, is 99.5% similar and cultural fetishisation for the sake of it is a form of self-inflicted blindness.
Hong Kong as an influence, is a noisy place, which inspires me by refusing to keep things simple or quiet, even if most people are rendered silent by it. Mental health is a box I’d like to say I try to fit a lot of my writing into- the state of Hong Kong’s popular perception, treatment and education when it comes to mental health is an absolute disgrace.
Google the government website on mental health, there’s a questionnaire for depression and if you succeed, if you have symptoms that fulfil the requirements for a diagnoses, the website effectively tells you to ‘take it easy’. There’s barely any help. It’s an absolute disgrace, and it’s not the rich that are being let down, they can afford private treatment, it’s the larger majority that have to count on a government doctor with ten minutes every two weeks to see you and the popular stigma that you can’t talk about these things.
The social environment is, in many ways, psychologically toxic. That said I have it easy compared to most people, I’m aware of that, I try to stay aware of my privilege. But the BS is dripping from the walls.
Things I wish were or that I could see in the city but don’t because the world is not moulded by the whims of my imagination.
Like when I stop,
Like when I pause, to give a beggar change,
Another hard-eyed walker strides towards us,
He’s from this mangled person’s mysterious past.
He’s got a deformed limb,
He’s engaging in disabled kung fu,
Flipping around on one functional leg,
And beating the shit out of this guy wearing a suit.
Is that as offensive as ignoring him?
At least in my fantasies I pretend to care.
Behind an office lady’s perfume trail,
I surf a happy wake- wish it was colored,
Maybe purple, so I can
Sniff the smell of happy.
It’s not stalking, going in the same direction,
It’s not like there’s any space on the escalator.
See the perfectly looking douchey guy in the suit,
See the way too sultry blouse wearing office girl,
See them engage in Mortal Kombat.
A look passes between them,
An accusatory YOUUU
One person kicks / the streets clear,
To form an orderly circle.
I become one of those dudes in the backdrop,
Moving my hands up and down,
Like in the Super Street fighter backgrounds.
Outside the Landmark,
Fenced-in trees inhale car fumes,
Like hardened smokers talking shit to one another,
About how dumb humans are.
You know the waterfront used to be right by my roots.
Yeah thank the Sun they covered that stuff with concrete. Smelled horrific.
Sometimes on a skyway,
When a double decker passes so close,
I think of jumping, and rolling, then running on the roofs,
But I’d need something to escape from for it to make sense.
Or something to chase.
Like office ladys.
How about the neon signs,
Unravelling to become neon snakes,
They float through the sky like Doctor Who monsters,
If they touch you, they either electrocute, or seduce,
And next thing you know you’re in a Wanchai strip club being choked to death
By the fairy lights.
I want a class one Tai Tai laden down with shopping bags,
Wearing Armani everything and sunglass occluded eyes,
To walk into HSBC,
Chill as fuck,
And from her shopping bags drop,
Two tommy guns.
With perfect diction, her lines would be:
Everyone be cool this is a robbery.
Any of you pricks move and I’ll execute every last mother fucking one of you.
In my fantasies I don’t bother not to plagiarise,
This is why copyright is unnatural,
Her lipstick is as red as the HSBC logo,
Or the dead kids those terrorists they accidentally funded killed.
Oops, too far, good thing none of this is real.
The Victoria Harbour channel monster would be unfathomable.
Doubly terrifying because of the layers of nasty that film the water,
Would make it invisible till it was a few feet from the surface,
Armoured in plastic bags, translucent scales that warp the image underneath,
Lovecrafted out of Vita Box cartons that inflate and deflate as it breathes,
It’s touch is asthma,
It’s straw appendages piercing skin to suck out all your dreams,
Right through your pupils,
You won’t be able to get a good night’s sleep again,
It will find you in every toilet bowl and stagnant puddle,
The urban mosquitos are it’s eyes.
Skyscrapers are secret spaceships,
Rocket boosters buried in the concrete,
Waiting for the signal,
They lift up all at once,
Hidden steel shutters locking down windows,
For the inevitable space exodus.
Inevitable, in my fantasies at least.
Maybe they are missiles,
Filled with angry bankers coked up like Viking berserkers, unable to distinguish friend,
From the ignorant average person investing with them,
They take their ties off, tying to them stationary,
Wielding silken nunchucks against the bugger ships they board,
The antennas and weird spiral shit on roofs were always
Disguised ramming prows.
If all the cars, lorrys and bus’s horned at once,
Would the sound blow out all the buildings glass?
If the PLA in admiralty took on the cops,
Would the triads decide a tie breaker?
I want a crazy brown guy to walk into a crystal shop,
With a tennis racket,
And systematically smash everything at once,
Then maybe buy it all afterwards,
Take that mainland billionaires.
I’m a fucked up patriot in my head.
I want to see ten thousand people take to the streets,
Yelling slogans from the 1970s,
I want to sit cross legged in the middle of the highway
While the Hong Kong police go full police state
And radical students are threatened with pepper spray,
Would be cool to feel a part of history,
Especially to be on the losing side.
I want graffiti on the government buildings,
And street art outside the IFC,
I want a declaration that anyone can be Batman,
Hanging from a skyway.
I want to see it again,
And pretend that a seven million strong city,
Educated and liberal,
Could field one hell of an army
For a change,
I want my fantasies to be real,
I don’t think theres anything wrong with having an office girl fetish,
I mean I grew up in Hong Kong.
It’s not my fault.
That I want you
to give me
Peel Street Poetry is an open mic poetry night at Orange Peel. It runs every Wednesday of the month except the first. The environment is friendly and they love new performers, so come share your poetry or just listen along to some of Hong Kong’s sharpest poetic talents.
Peel Street Poetry Open Mic Date: 2nd, 3rd, 4th (and 5th) Wednesdays of the month Venue: Orange Peel Tickets: Free More info: www.peelstreetpoetry.com