What is Tchoukball? Most people have never even heard of the sport, let alone tried to play it. (by Ela Howard)
Kandy Ho has been playing Tchoukball for the past eight years, and invests a lot of time and effort into her trainings while also promoting the sport in Hong Kong. The sport is played with seven players on a court. The aim is to score a point by throwing the ball on the trampoline, and the ball must bounce outside of the circle surrounding the trampoline, without being caught by the defending team. It is a zero contact sport, and players can only take three steps with the ball. To get a better sense of the sport, you can watch this video.
Kandy started playing Tchoukball in high school after being introduced to the sport by her volleyball coach, who at the time played for the Hong Kong Tchoukball team. She went on to represent Hong Kong and to this day, still does. They are currently ranked fourth in the world and are hoping to improve their ranking at the next world championships, which will be held in early August 2019.
Playing Tchoukball has not been easy for Kandy, for she has had to learn how to balance trainings along with studies, social pressure, family obligations, and now a career in the corporate world. Regardless, Kandy continues to play and promote the sport, in the hopes that other people will be exposed to it and also learn to love it also.
Developing Tchoukball in Hong Kong
Kandy along with many players from the Hong Kong Women’s Tchoukball team, created a foundation called FlyersHK which aims to promote the sport in Hong Kong. They have faced many difficulties along the way, and the main issue is the lack of venues available to them. They are unable to book public facilities as tchoukball is not allowed to be played there. Instead, they use street basketball courts. They have also found it difficult to publicize the sport, as it is still so unknown.
FlyersHK has decided to take a new approach focussing on grassroots. They have started to work with schools, helping to promote the sport within the school. This allows for younger kids to be exposed to the sport and will remember what the sport is even as they get older. It also allows for new talent to be trained from a younger age. They have started to organize various school competitions to further promote tchoukball. It is still a difficult sport for the public to join in on, but FlyersHK are hoping that once there is enough public interest, they can then offer more classes for people to join.
How to market and develop a new sport
Following some factors that enable a sport to become a popular sport nationwide, we share with you how FlyersHK are growing Tchoukball in HK.
Easy to recreate
To overcome the need to use different venue and facilities in Hong Kong in order to play tchoukball, A short-term solution to this has been to alter the rules slightly so that it can be played inside a sports hall or a gym, which allows the sport to be played more and for more people in Hong Kong to be exposed to the sport. When FlyersHK introduced tchoukball to primary schools, instead of playing with an actual tchoukball, they played with a soft foam ball, thereby giving reassurance to parents that their children would not get hurt when playing the sport.
Strong Community and competition
Not many people know about tchoukball, so the players that play have quickly become like family, and the few girls who do play it, play at a high level and all share the same amount of passion, and love for the sport. Talking to Kandy, it became quite clear that her team is what helped her persist with the sport even when pressures from other aspects of her life made her feel like she should quit the sport. Surrounding yourself with a supportive environment is really important.
“The team is like a family that has helped pushed me along the way”
Rules and Governance
As tchoukball is still quite a young sport, it is malleable, especially at a grassroots level. In order for the sport to spread to all corners of the community, one must focus on the foundations, and main rules of the game, while letting go of some. Once people are able to grasp the basics, then the sport can incorporate all of the official rules and regulations.
The Appeal of the sport
Tchoukball may not be well known, but there is an appeal to it – in that, anyone can play the sport. It was designed to be able to be played by anyone. There are no limitations like in volleyball, with height for instance. Kandy was instantly drawn to the sport for this reason. In volleyball she is a spiker, and usually spikers must be tall in order to have the upper hand. There’s also no contact in tchoukball, so it’s an open environment and this gave Kandy much room to improve.
“As long as I put in effort I’ll get something out of it”
A word from Kandy on the World Tchoukball Championships 2019
“The Hong Kong team is putting our greatest effort to train for this championship which is only held once every four years. We are running a crowdfunding campaign to support our players going to this event, since most of our players are just students and have some financial difficulties. The sum of money raised will also be used to promote tchoukball in Hong Kong as well. Check out and support their campaign.”
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