TSANG Pan-ko, Hugo
First emerging as a stone-rolling game popular among Egyptians around 5 000 BC, lawn bowls have evolved over time into a noble sport enjoyed by the British royal family, leaving a general impression that this is “a sport for the elderly”. It is therefore surprising that a very young boy would have been so captivated by this sport and handpicked by coaches during his debut match to join the Lawn Bowls Youth Development Team. This little boy aspired to receive rigorous training so that he could represent Hong Kong in future competitions, in the hope of bringing glory to the city.
“Are you interested in playing lawn bowls?” TSANG Pan-ko, Hugo, now ten years old, recalled a friend asking him three years ago. The sport was new to Hugo, and he gave it a try. After all, he had nothing to lose. There was no way back once he did, as he had fallen in love with the sport. Since then, he has been spending three to four days a week on pitches with his friends playing the game. He jokingly attributed his enthusiasm for lawn bowls to the proximity of the pitches to his home.
Hugo used to play soccer often, but lawn bowls has now become his favourite. He found lawn bowls more challenging as compared with soccer, as scoring in soccer is more direct, i.e. getting the ball into the goal to score. In contrast, there are more opportunities to serve in lawn bowls, hence making game outcomes far from a foregone conclusion until the very end.
Last year, Hugo participated in a competition organised by the Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association (the Association) and was selected to join the Youth Development Team after finishing third in this debut. Rita, Youth Development Coaching Director of the Association, remarked that Hugo performed very confidently during the competition, while working closely with teammates with a spirit of teamwork. Rita also highlighted that it was remarkable for Hugo to have achieved such a high level of performance without any formal training, revealing his talent for the sport.
Hugo has now been with the Youth Development Team for two months. Despite the cancellation of team training sessions due to the epidemic, he was urged by coaches to watch videos of lawn bowls matches, in a bid to enhance his understanding of the sport. Hugo said that there were marked differences between team training and leisure playing. “The coach is very specific in teaching and team training is more formal”. The Youth Development Team practises every Wednesday afternoons and Sunday mornings, for a total of five hours a week. Despite the inevitable stress during long training hours, Hugo never had a thought of giving up. For him, it is well worth facing up to the challenges, as he receives praises from senior players or coaches every time after training. He hopes to continue his training and can one day play for the Hong Kong team in competitions.
Despite the brevity of formal training, his mother has noted improvements made by Hugo. In her opinion, Hugo has become more independent since receiving training. She now feels more assured in his young son when he goes on his own to the pitches in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay for training. She unhesitatingly offers her support to Hugo for continued lawn bowls training. Not only is playing lawn bowls safer and involves fewer physical contacts, but above all, also provides a common talking point for her and Hugo. They now play lawn bowls in pitches whenever they are free, bonding the family together.
Rita explained that lawn bowling was actually a sport for all. It is easy to learn but difficult to master, requiring a high degree of concentration, patience and teamwork. She noticed that the sport has become more popular than before, with clubs organising various activities and training classes in promotion of the sport. Speaking of the expectations for Hugo, Rita said she wished him to continue his formal training and to participate in competitions to accumulate hands-on experience, with a view to emerging as an athlete to represent Hong Kong on some days in the future. Meanwhile, the Association will, as in the past, promote lawn bowling to children, with the aim of making this sport more accessible for members of the public to have a great fun.