Editor’s Note: Welcome HKLA Executive Committee Event leader and member of the ASPAC 2015 Hong Kong women’s team, Tammy Cheung to LaxAllStars.com. Along with the Hong Kong Lacrosse Association, Tammy will continue to construct for us the greater picture that is the Hong Kong Lacrosse scene.
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Over 10 days in the summer of July 2015, the Asia Pacific Lacrosse Championships (ASPAC 2015) were hosted by Thailand Lacrosse Association in Bangkok, Thailand. From the 4th to the 10th of July, eight men’s and six women’s national teams, governed by thirty-three officials from nine nations, battled on the grounds of Muangthong United Football Club in competition for the Gold, Silver, Bronze medals and the ASPAC trophy.
The tournament was the largest gathering of lacrosse teams in the Asia-Pacific region since the start of the program in 2004. As the slogan on the official tournament tee says, the game has been “growing by competing.”
This year, developing nation Team Malaysia entered the tournament for the first time alongside of United China Team with members from both mainland China and Taiwan as the new additions for ASPAC 2015, adding to an ever-growing field of competitors.
The Hong Kong Lacrosse Association brought 24 men’s and 19 women’s players with their respective coaching staffs, a team physician and 2 sports therapists to Bangkok arriving for preparation of the games on 1st of July. Officiating representatives from Hong Kong were Frankie Fung, Edwin Leung, Dennis Cheng and Noriko Uchiyama.
Our Hong Kong Men’s Team, lead by head coach, Scott Browning and his coaching team Travis Gillespie, Rob Marshall, Jordan Wong and Jovi Yan, entered strong into the tournament and wrapping up in 4th place in an exciting close match losing 10-16 to Team Australia, a second time in the Bronze medal match.
The team picked up the dynamics of the game, playing progressively stronger as the tournament went on and displaying their continuous efforts of preparation for this summer’s championship. It’s obvious that this team continues to progress, not only on the field but also in the local development of lacrosse players, with a full team of “home grown” players, from the High Performance Program since the Denver Championships in 2014.
With the establishment of the High Performance Program, the sport has been rapidly developing locally in Hong Kong, with an average age of the men’s players is 22 years old, of which with 18 of them are current students of The University of Hong Kong.
Of note, highlights of the tournament from the Hong Kong Men’s games were in the Bronze medal game against Australia. Coach Browning particularly praised the strong commitment and perseverance of the team who “fought hard all game, when Australia scored a couple we fought back with 1 or 2, the guys believed in themselves and their ability to compete and play with the Aussies.”
Coach Browning introduced the recognition of the team’s players of the game, recognizing anything from all-around effort, the hardest worker, the best hit, a great shot or contribution to the game with the HK flag Bauhinia sticker, to display this trophy on their helmets.
Our Hong Kong Women’s Team, lead by head coach Travis Taylor and his coaching team, Travis Roost, Gemini Fan and Kinuko Shiotani showed consistent improvement as the tournament progressed also came home in 4th place, unable to defeat Team South Korea in the Bronze medal Match.
Congratulations to both Japanese Men’s and Women’s teams for defending their titles from ASPAC 2013 this year, defeating Team Thailand by a close 11-9 in the Men’s finals and Team Australia 22-5 in the Women’s finals.
Under the glaring sun and the intense heat of Bangkok, both Hong Kong Men’s and Women’s teams displayed excellent sportsmanship, perseverance and great team spirit.
Injuries, broken bones, pulled and strained muscles were well taken care of by our team of physicians, our team doctor Dr. J and therapists Jenny and Keith, be it taping, sports massage, assisted stretching and ice baths.
Both teams returned home with bruises, blisters and a skin tone several shades darker; but the invaluable friendships, bonding, experience and exposure of lacrosse across the Asia-Pacific nations over the last 10 days of the championship, beyond a doubt, was the best prize anyone could have brought home.
We express our extreme gratitude to all supporting staff, members and sponsors of the Hong Kong Lacrosse Association, without whom this valuable championship experience would not have been possible.
Last but not the least, a big round of applause to TLA who organized this unforgettable event.