Sports Hero

Promotion Coordinator, Hong Kong China Softball Association
KU Oi-yu

Popularity of softball cannot be deemed high in Hong Kong. Despite the rapidly increasing number of secondary school softball teams in recent years, softball remains less popular, in terms of level of participation and public awareness, than such traditional sports as basketball, volleyball, and football. Seeing softball as part of her life, KU Oi-yu has committed herself to its promotion. Serving currently as the Promotion Coordinator with the Hong Kong China Softball Association (the Association), she is tasked with promoting the sport and handling the affairs of the Hong Kong softball team. During our interview with her, we were deeply impressed by her passion for softball. KU believes that it is important to concentrate on the work at hand and good results will follow from them. This same philosophy underpins her promotional work for softball.

When a Girl First Met Softball

KU first played softball at the age of 15 in physical education (PE) class at school. Performing remarkably, she caught the eye of her PE teacher who was in charge of the school’s softball team. She was promptly selected to the school team for training. Thanks to the unreserved recommendation of her coach, she subsequently joined the Hong Kong softball squad. KU expressed that she was incredibly fortunate enough to have been offered opportunities in those early days to learn from coaches from different countries, broadening her horizons and greatly benefiting her development. KU has been participating in softball for 24 years. After retiring as a player, she joined the Association, assuming the role as the Promotion Coordinator. She hopes to contribute to the sport in another capacity. She believes that this sport has so far borne witness to her growth and has made unforgettable memories in life for her. That is the reason why she has a strong sense of mission to introduce softball to more Hong Kong people.

Charm of Softball

Softball is appealing in that players compete on unique playing fields and follow game rules. Many consider softball a highly strategic team sport. In fact, this sport requires a high degree of skills, deep tacit understanding among teammates and good tactical application. Unlike other sports, apart from developing physical fitness in terms of pitching, batting, fielding and running, softball players must also be unusually observant and vigilant in face of mental and physical challenges. Blending intellectual and technical elements, softball is highly challenging and dynamic, attracting avid sports lovers with passion for pushing their limits. KU is no exception.

Historic Moment of Softball

It is natural that KU, a promoter of softball, takes great pride in the sport’s growing recognition among the public. Her most unforgettable moment was when the Hong Kong softball squad made its debut at the Asian Games in 2018. However, her most memorable game played was when she competed in the Softball Asia Cup 2017. The Hong Kong squad, with KU in its lineup, achieved a historic 6th place finish in the event, their best result since its reformation in 2010, thereby securing an invaluable place in the Asian Games. Despite the passing of years, she can still vividly recall this historic moment and feels immensely proud of that, especially the emotional moment when she and her teammates embraced each other in tears.

Looking Forward

While softball requires larger spaces to play, land is scarce in Hong Kong. Identifying suitable venues to host softball events is no easy task. KU hopes that solutions will be found to such a venue issue at some point in future, thereby allowing greater public participation in this sport and enhancing its popularity. As such, there will be, hopefully, much greater room for the development of softball from now onwards.

As far as future promotional and publicity efforts are concerned, the Association has been organising leagues at varying levels in Hong Kong. In addition to the champion, first and second runners-up awards, special recognitions such as the Best Batter and the Most Valuable Player awards have also been introduced to encourage participants to give it all a go. By doing so, they not only help teams achieve better results, but also manifest sportsmanship.

Furthermore, the Association will once again host the international men’s and women’s invitation tournaments in 2024. KU trusts that both intensive promotion beforehand and full implementation of athlete training programmes will prove crucial to the success of the events. The popularity of softball will, hopefully, be greatly enhanced. She expects that athletes will compete in more international competitions and takes part in more exchange activities, helping Hong Kong’s softball come into prominence and spurring its development at the community level.

Lastly, KU expressed gratitude for the annual subvention granted by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department in support of the Hong Kong squad’s training programmes and participation in overseas competitions. Such subvention was also used to cover the costs incurred by promotion of softball among the general public, in communities and at schools. She believes that softball will one day emerge as a popular sport well received by the public.