The Premier League season was less than two weeks old when I embarked on my journey from London to Hong Kong. For the majority of the 12 hour flight, I was thinking of ways to not lose connection with the English game so I could try to watch as many Premier League games on TV as possible, especially considering the 7-hour time difference.
Knowing very little when I landed in Hong Kong, I was surprised to see such a British connection with names such as the Queen Elizabeth Stadium and street names such as Old King Street and Duke Street. My first port of call was to try and find Sports Road, near the Times Square area of the city. This road is the home to Hong Kong Football Club, as well as Happy Valley Racecourse and the Queen Elizabeth Stadium; a 3,500 seater arena with a gym, badminton and squash courts, plus a multi-purpose hall.
I chatted with a security guard from Hong Kong Football Club. He explained how multiple soccer teams use the HKFC facilities. The venue is also home to the prestigious Rugby 10’s and soccer 7’s tournaments, which is when they see their biggest influx of visitors and has been graced by many professional stars of both sports.
Multiple nationalities, including Dutch, Swiss and Scottish play for HKFC, which is not to be confused with the Hong Kong national team. The national team is currently 151st in the FIFA world rankings, sandwiched between minnows such as Liechtenstein and Puerto Rico. They take part in competitions such as the Asian Cup, East Asian Football Championship and the FIFA World Cup, although they have never qualified for the latter, nor the Asian Cup since their fifth place finish in 1968.
There were plenty of soccer jerseys on display around the city, with the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona by far the most popular, but my personal favorite was Nike’s take on the Hong Kong national team. The unusual red and white shirt is hard to find, but the design is unique and well worth looking for as a souvenir of a trip to Asia’s financial capital.
While walking through the popular and very busy Kowloon Park and Victoria Park, I came across what looked like state of the art 5-a-side soccer pitches with adults and children all playing soccer throughout the grounds of both parks. In between the parks is the world-famous Hong Kong skyline and when the sun sets and the symphony of lights begins, there is only one place to be; the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront.