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Richmond 'street soccer'-style tournament welcomes Hong Kong immigrants to B.C.

Hong Kong street soccer is more than just a sport, says local enthusiast.
Co-organizer Wayne Chan (left) during a soccer game.

A large soccer tournament in Richmond is being held to connect newly arrived Hong Kong immigrants with local soccer enthusiasts in the community.

The CanKong Association is hosting its first CanKong Soccer Sevens tournament on June 1 and 2 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Minoru 2 soccer field, which will see eight "Hong Konger-based teams" playing against each other.

The tournament will follow a "street soccer" format -- a type of soccer playing style with "decades of history in Hong Kong," said Sunny Wu, co-organizer of the tournament.

The term street soccer or "street ball" comes from local neighbourhood soccer fields with playing fields that are normally hard cement, he explained.

Fields in Hong Kong are smaller with seven-a-side (seven players) on roughly a 40 by 60-yard field compared to the traditional 11-a-side (11 players) on an approximate 100 by 130-yard field seen on television.

Wu described this style of soccer as fast-paced and physical due to the smaller fields.

"Many professional players in Hong Kong started by playing street soccer, and retired players take part in these street soccer competitions well into their 60s or 70s, too," he said.

He told the Richmond News the tournament is a way for new and current Hong Kong immigrant and soccer players to come together.

"Soccer is a platform for them to meet new people and settle into their new surroundings," said Wu.

Co-organizer Wayne Chan was a prominent figure in the Hong Kong street soccer scene and wanted to bring it to B.C, hence the tournament being held in Richmond.

Chan has participated in and organized soccer competitions for more than 20 years in Hong Kong.

Street soccer, Wu added, is more about spending time with friends.

"Sometimes when the fields aren't available, we will just sit on the site for hours hoping the field would be open and getting a chance to play," he said.

"As a whole, street soccer is a sub-culture in Hong Kong that represents many locals' life outside of school or work."

There will be former Hong Kong Premier League, local amateur league and casual players playing in the tournament.

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