Some people just do things the right way, and I can appreciate that. The Hong Kong Lacrosse Association are those people, and the fruits of their labor have been bountiful. In addition to a blossoming domestic product and a rapidly improving representative team, the HKLA treasures its signature event, the Hong Kong Lacrosse Open.
The annual event has seen growth every year. Most tournaments are evaluated on their size, and while the HKLO has grown in number of teams, it really is the quality that has grown to be this tournament’s signature.
Building the biggest event and building the best event aren’t always the same thing. In order to get bigger, you first have to get better. Hong Kong has put endless work in on the ground with local partnerships to ensure the best product possible. This, in turn, will attract higher quality teams from regional powerhouses like Japan and Australia, and we’re strongly considering bringing a North American team of our own next year!
One of the lesser discussed aspects of these larger regional tournaments is the officiating. The growth and development of quality officials is lagging behind the rise in number of players – and we all know it. That isn’t a shot taken at referees, it’s simply a fact. Finding new blood to suit up and take the field as players can prove difficult enough, finding knowledgeable and willing individuals to suit up in stripes is even harder!
Regional events like the Silesia Cup in Poland, Scandinavian Cup in Norway, and New Year’s Cup in Budapest are all excellent collections of the surrounding lacrosse communities. It’s event’s like these, as well as the Hong Kong Open, that are being utilized for referee and umpire trainings to further up the level of officiating.
Hosting FIL ref/umpire trainings from European and North American officials in Asia is just one example of how Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific Lacrosse Union are working hard to develop lacrosse in the region.
While it is important to cultivate and upgrade our officials, I think the greatest asset to this rapidly improving event is the addition of youth lacrosse. Younger and younger players has been the focus of a number of Asian countries in the past decade. We’re just now seeing the fruits of this labor, and I can’t express enough how happy it makes me to see youth lacrosse taking hold in new places.
Hong Kong has been booming in domestic growth – primarily at the university level, and so it’s nice to see the organization diversifying it’s already impressive portfolio. As Hong Kong continues to increase it’s playing population, so too does Hong Kong continue to increase the playing level of it’s playing population.
All Ages, All Genders
With youth lacrosse on full display at the Hong Kong Open, it’s clear to see that the future is bright.
Youth lacrosse development and participation from Hong Kong and the surrounding lacrosse nations will prove pivotal in future endeavors, but the real focus is of course on the adult men’s and women’s programs that took the field at the Stanley Ho Sports Complex at the end of April.
Teams from 8 countries filled out 18 teams filled out the bracket. 10 men’s and 8 women’s teams were broken into two pools each, with winners and losers of the pools advancing to play each other in championships and placement games.
Hong Kong’s domestic investments seem to be paying off, as the home team was able to capture both the Men’s and Women’s titles again this year. Hong Kong is of course in preparations for this year’s Men’s World Championships in Israel, and the women are coming off of a respectable 18th place finish with a 4-4 record in the Women’s World Cup this past summer in the U.K.
Both Men’s and Women’s Representative teams won in 2017 as well, and both teams could be favorites to win the tournament in 2019 as well. The heightened profile and improving skill level could attract some sharks from Australia and hopefully an elite-level team out of Japan, but that remains to be seen!
The folks at home, wherever that may be, were able to watch the games via live stream. This was the first year that the HKLO had games streamed. My time zone difference made it difficult for me to watch games as they were happening, but I can attest that the quality of the stream as well as the lacrosse both made for a super enjoyable viewing experience!
Hong Kong is investing in the domestic product from the youth levels, to the universities, all the way up to the elite levels of teams that will represent the nation. The HKLA is extending the invitation to regional teams from Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and beyond to come join in the rising tide.
The Hong Kong Lacrosse Open is the premier tournament in the region. I was fortunate enough to attend last year, however scheduling conflicts kept me from this year’s event. Rest assured, I will not be missing the Hong Kong Lacrosse Open in 2019, and I hope that you’ll take this as an invitation to join me.