On a Wednesday evening at Stanley Ho Sports Centre, around fifteen girls run on a small corner of the field. Each of them is holding a racquet that is similar to a field hockey stick, except that instead of a ‘toe,’ there is a pocket at the end. They pass a small rubber ball using these sticks, and when a girl in the center swiftly cuts through and nets a goal, her teammates low-five with their stick heads.
“Today is the team selection day,” explains Hui Chui Wong, the captain of the HKU women’s lacrosse team. A sport started by native Americans, lacrosse had been played mostly in Canada and the United States but recently gained popularity in Europe and east Asia. In Hong Kong, HKU was the first university to introduce lacrosse in the 1980s, but it was just two years ago that the sport began to flourish.
“I started coaching HKU girls to give them the chance to experience lacrosse,” recalls Marco Cheung, the previous coach of the women’s lacrosse team. The team started as a group of girls who were interested in the sport, but as they developed passion and brought in more friends to try together, the number of players began to grow. When the group was large enough to hold more than twelve players, Agnes Wong, the then Person in Charge (PIC) of the interest group, decided to form a team and compete in the Hong Kong Lacrosse League.
This year, Hong Kong Lacrosse Association prepared a program to promote women’s lacrosse by offering equipment loans to startup hall teams. With the help of such program and the efforts of the PICs of various halls, the interest group has expanded to include five halls: Wei Lun Hall, Starr Hall, Lee Hysan Hall, Lee Chi Hung Hall, and Lady Ho Tung Hall.
“HKU Lacrosse Club, HKUSU, is planning to hold an unofficial inter-hall tournament at the end of the academic year,” explains captain Wong. To hold an official inter-hall women’s lacrosse games is the ultimate goal of the club. The Institute of Human Performance requires at least four hall teams per a sport to organize the games, so technically it is not impossible anymore. Wong believes that the success of this unofficial tournament will affect whether the women’s lacrosse returns to the official inter-hall competition next year.
It will be the return after almost twenty-five years since the 1980s when the champion flags on the walls of St. John’s College and Lady Ho Tung were given. Cheung expects, “I hope these unofficial inter-hall games draw the attention of student associations and spark the revival of this tradition.” In response, Wong adds, “women’s lacrosse has a long way to go, so we’re taking one step at a time.”