Chris Chung, the versatile defensive player at Southern, took the time to chat about Hong Kong youth football and Australian sporting culture.
Chung gave his views on the opportunities afforded to youths in Hong Kong football.
“I think youth football has definitely improved from what it was in the past. I think the Hong Kong team, with the youth team, has been a great pathway for a lot of youth players and I was lucky to be part of that programme from under 14’s all the way up. Now, a lot more of the premier league clubs are trying to introduce younger players into their teams and give them a bit more experience.”
Australia’s Sports Culture
“In Australia, sports is a cultural thing ingrained into many children from a young age. So in Australia, kids have to play sports every week with the school and outside of school so it is very much a cultural thing I believe.
In Australia, the preference for sports is always changing and cricket used to be such a big sport in Australia but we have seen this die down and now soccer/football is becoming quite a big sport and has grown and is almost comparable to rugby in Australia which is good to see.”
Video: Australia defeat Uruguay in World Cup qualifying to make WC 2006
Australia now qualify for both men’s and women’s FIFA World Cup Finals on a regular basis. The senior men’s team made history by qualifying in 2006 (their only prior appearance was in 1974) after a famous win over Uruguay. The women’s team have made appearances at the Women’s World Cup since 1995 and are now regular quarter-finalists.
Video: A goal net is pulled down. The delay ruins Australia’s momentum against Iran in 1997.
Qualifying for the World Cup in Germany was a huge milestone especially after many heartaches including the infamous 2-0 turnaround in 1997, when a pitch invader pulled down a set of goal nets. The delay disrupted Australia’s momentum against Iran, who clawed themselves back into the game.
Chung believes that qualifying for a major tournament can have many positive ramifications for Hong Kong.
“I think 2006 grew the game in Australia. If we can do something like that in Hong Kong then it could reignite the football passion in Hong Kong. The HKPL deserves more attention than it gets.”
Chung is a student-athlete so when he is not pursuing the sports side of his life, his other focus is his academics. He has the time-management skills to balance a professional sports career and maintain a decent academic record.
Chung also discussed his time playing in Hong Kong.
“A lot of players have come out and spoken highly of Zesh and the work he does with players individually, and it is the care and attention that the club gives to players to give them the opportunity. I think that is really important especially for the younger players because if they are only playing Sapling cup games then it can be quite difficult afterward to transition into first-team football so it is important to give them game time outside of the Sapling cup.”
In the world of endless names, who does Chung cite as a person to model his game on?
“I think growing up, I was a midfield player and my favourite player was Sergio Busquets” and there is a famous quote “If you watch a game then you don’t see Busquets but if you watch Busquets then you see the game” so he was always a role model for me.”
Chung had the chance to play in the HK Soccer Sevens against some English Premier League sides and regarded it as a positive experience for him.
“The Soccer 7s were unreal and to play against Leicester and Brighton. It was a different challenge but one I will cherish. My attitude, no matter what game I play, is that the opponents are humans: they have two feet and I have two feet. What they can do, I can also do. I understand they are Premier League players and give 100 percent focus, and I don’t let nerves get to me and I focus on the field.”
Talent or Hard Work?
Chung gave his voice to what are the requirements to achieve certain goals – Is it talent or hard work? What does it take to make it in sports (or anything)?
“It is a bit of both, I have been of the attitude that you control what you can control. You can control what you are naturally given! When I was younger and now, I can’t control how much better someone is. But I can control what I give to training so I always give 110 percent and you will see results so I think hard work is important.”