These girls are juggling studies, sports and the weight of a nation


Compared to their counterparts in Asia, Hong Kong netball easily holds its own in terms of facilities, infrastructure and funding. 


Bolstered by the experience of Australian, New Zealand and English coaches and players who have settled in the city, the sport is gaining momentum on various fronts - notably within local and international schools. 


This has yielded a crop of promising homegrown talent tipped to represent Hong Kong at senior level, who have come through the system and are now being eased into full competitive netball. 


In July, these girls are set to experience one of the most major regional tournaments as the U21 squad head to Japan for the Asian Youth Netball Championships. 


Expectations hang high - even against regional powerhouses such as Singapore and Malaysia.



Heidi Sun, who was given the honor of captaincy, believes Hong Kong has what it takes to lead a successful campaign. 


"We have all the energetic girls on this team and I'm sure we'll perform well in the tournament." Sun said.


With little prior knowledge about the other teams and as an unknown prospect, she believes Hong Kong can be free to express themselves,


"We don't have any expectations for the opponents, so we can play our own game." Sun added.


"And the opponents wouldn't know who we are, so we're new to them as well."



Since last year, the girls have been regularly going through various types of training, strength and conditioning in efforts to prepare for the tournament.


"[Leading up to July] We're definitely doing a lot more training and we're splitting into more precise court work." said co-vice captain Zenia Wong.


"But it's also a lot of mental training, so preparing and knowing what to expect."


"We're also making sure that we keep up our own health and fitness ourselves as were coming up to the tournament." co-vice captain Rachel Telford added.



The side have also become a close-knit bunch over time - something they think will add to their advantage. 


"We've got a lot of different players, a lot of different characters, but I also think we're really close as a team - we've built a lot of friendships on and off court, and that's definitely going to help us." Wong remarked.


A strong performance in Japan will chalk up a win for homegrown talent and underline their credentials. But for these Hong Kong students with big aspirations, it seems being on tour and growing closer together is already a reward in and of itself. 


As to whether their camaraderie can translate to silverware, we will have to wait and see. 



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