Category Archives: Sport

我們需要更多李娜

剛剛看完美網十六強李娜對珍高域的賽事,李娜憑其出色的表現,取得完勝,晉級半準決賽,繼續向其第二個大滿貫錦標進發。

與此同時,跟李娜同期出道的三朵金花在此項賽事出局,繼續無緣大滿貫賽事錦標。遺憾的是,她們也跟李娜一樣漸漸步入她們網球球員生涯的黃昏。

很多因為另外三朵金花惋惜,並思考為何她們在個人項目上不能取得更佳的成績。絕大部份人相信,李娜可以比另外三朵金花更勝一籌,與其離開中國網球體制至少有一定的關係。

遙想公瑾當年,不,其實只是十多年前,當四朵金花還是少年的時候,李娜愛情至上要拍拖,被當局喝止並給其二選一的決擇:要麼拍拖,要麼繼續打球。有個性的李娜成為中國版溫莎公爵,作出「要愛情不要事業」雷同選擇。當局也不能接受不聽話的球員,從此李娜走她的陽關路,體總走它的獨木橋。天幸李娜最後回歸瑰網球,更成為中國大滿貫第一人。但作為脫離體總的球員,不但讓官方只可抽取較少的獎金,更讓它臉上無光,此後大家不禁越行越遠。去年釣魚台事件時,李娜與另一位中國球手(忘了是鄭潔還是彭帥)同時參加一個在日本舉行的網球賽。結果呢?官方媒體大罵李娜是漢奸,卻大讚另一位中國球手促進中日人民感情,酸葡萄之情不言而喻。

並不是說體制一定不好,但李娜已經明確地指出盲目跟隨體制未必便是正路。筆者愛瀏覽國內體育網站,憤青們甚至對體育總局心痛惡絕,尤其是對於中國足運上的失敗,完全歸咎於體總以及其制度。在體育界別上,尤其在個人項目上,盲目跟隨制度,向錯誤制度的服從,李娜證明並不一定是對的。

其實這一道理放諸香港社會也一樣。服從於不公的制度,對個人來說成本付出是最小的,但對這個社會長遠而言是否真的利多於弊呢?如果社會多一些像李娜般敢於挑戰固有制度的,雖說這只是破壞而不是闖出一片新天的起點呢!

Sports commentaries – how often do they get it right?

Woke up at 7 this morning for a nature call and suddenly I recalled there is a match between Federer and Nadal on. I turned on the ipad and then TV and I was in for a treat. Another great encounter between the two truly greats and the quality of tennis is still awesome. Indeed it has to be that good to pull me out of the bed on a Saturday morning!

Football has always been my first sport but I have been picking up tennis in the recent years. While I was still living in England, the first thing I did every Sunday morning would be going down to the local newsagent to get News of the World (which no longer exists – they have renamed it as Sunday Times following that scandal) and my breakfast. All the football gossips and sporting commentaries are perfect with a relax Sunday breakfast.

While I absolutely love all those sporting commentaries, I wonder how often do they get it right?

Nadal beats Federer by 2 sets to 1 this morning. Federer took the first set. The match was very close and in fact there was only one break point in the first set and neither there were many in the subsequent sets. Despite the defeat, Federer’s forehand, backhand and net approaches are still truly amazing. In fact my tennis coach, among many others, still regards Federer’s play is still by far the best role model and closest to the textbook stuff.

However Federer has been written off by many sports columnists – he has past it at 31, his stamina may not stand the demand of the games blah blah blah. Well those are valid points. However just before Federer was beaten by Tsonga on the French Open this year, I recalled a commentator saying that Federer is playing better than ever and his style of play makes him able to play at ease even he is not the fittest player in the pinnacle of tennis. So he changed his opinions over a few games? Does he recall before the era of Federer’s dominance even the top players don’t win Grand Slam every year (let alone multiple Grand Slams) and now he has been written off because he is not a current winner of any Grand Slams?

This morning’s match is among the best, in terms of quality of tennis, since French Open this year. Possibly only second to the Wimbledon Semi-Final between Del Porto and Djokovic. Anyway, anyone writing off Federer now may well sing his prasies after a few good performance in US Open. Afterall, I am a fan of Nadal not Federer.

Sports commentaries are great for entertainment, but by no means they are bible.

And for those football fans who would have forgotten the famous quote of a certain Alan Hansen on Manchester United at the beginning of its treble winning sesion – “they can’t win anthing with the kids”!

Watching and playing sports

For the whole of my life football, or soccer if you are American, has been my favourite sport. I guess I am bound to have fallen in love with football: My dad is a fan and I inherit this from him, I have been watching FA Cup via ATV (yes back in my childhood football is still available on free TV) and since 13 I have been living in England where football is “more than life and death”. At one stage I probably can recognise the faces of every Premier League and even Championship players, which is a strict contrast to those football commentators in Hong Kong where they have to track the number assinged to the player and even then they read out name of the player for the wrong team.

However I watch football far more than play it. One of the reasons is that it is difficult to get 10 people from my peer group, let alone 22, to play 5-a-side at my age. However even when I was in my school or colleage days I tend to watch more. I realise that is more to do with my inability to play sports, and I mean any type of sports. The fact that I am not physically fit enough leading to my shockingly awful performance on the pitch, makes me even more sceptical of playing and instead rather to watching the game comfortably in front of TV or inside the stadium. It is a bad cycle, which is similar to the fact once I realised I can’t really cut it in the subject I was studying I tend to give up.

Few years back my wife started to fall in love with tennis, and somehow she thought it is a good idea we built a common hobby. The idea is sound, unfortunately my soul and body is weak. I have never been fond of the idea playing outdoor sports in Hong Kong where temperature is consistently over 30 degrees Celsius and the relative humidity is never less than 99.9%. More importantly I am awful at playing and why I want to put myself going through that while I feel enough defeatism at work? Anyway, as always in a relationship, my wife (then fiancée)  won. I was forced to play but only reluctantly, and if I can find an excuse to give a training session a miss I usually will be glad to do so.

Towards the end of last year, out of nowhere, my play has suddenly picked up. When I say “pick up” it merely means I can return the ball ending inside the court from time to time. However this is encouraging enough for me and funny enough I start enjoying playing tennis. In fact I am eager to play as I want to improve. I guess that is another solid proof that man is shallow, we only want to do things we are or at least we think we can be good at. Either way it is good as I have never been so dedicted to play any sports for my last 30 years, and exercise is much needed at the current stage of my life just to get myself healthy.

I must confess I am not into watching tennis as much as football. Nonetheless more I watch players like Djokovic and Nadal play I learn more. I don’t mean just in terms of how body moves and tactics they are playing, but more how they do things. Recently I feel I have not been progressing as much in tennis despite I put in more work in, and sometimes lose it when things are not going my way. This is something you don’t find from those top players. Djokovic saved 4 match points against Tsonga in the quarter final of French Open to keep his dream of being the holder of all Grand Slam titles alive, and the happened inside a stadium where virtually everyone is against you (given Tsonga is French). With so much at stake (we are talking about putting his name in the history book) I just do not know how he can keep his nerve. His EQ and AQ must be extraordinary high. Like Djokovic I like playing light heart jokes at times but how he can manage all the expectation and pressure is really out of me. As for Nadal, my favouriter player, he just works tirelessly and never gives up. After he beats David Ferrer, who is probably the best player on clay after Nadal, in straight sets and with so much ease in last night’s semi-final, the reporter has asked him what is the secret of being so unbeatable on clay. The response is simple, “There is no secret. I work hard all my life and hope things go my way and giving me a chance to enjoy playing in wonderful matches like semi-final of a Grand Slam.”

Indeed hard work even when your chips are down and handling the difficult the situation are the ways to succeed. While I am still far away from that in real life, it is still a pleasure to see the rare success examples by watching the game. I just can’t wait to see Nadal vs Djokovic in the Final of French Open tomorrow!

Charlie Adam – A credit to the game

Whatever will happen to Blackpool at the end of the season, in my mind its Captain Charlie Adam has been a credit to the game.

Not just because he has been a bargain purchase for the seaside club, he is expected to be sold for at least 10 million pounds this summer which is 20 times what Blackpool paid for him 2 years ago. Not because his goals and contributions keep hopes for the seaside club to stay in the Premiership, which would have been closed to a miracle and disappointed all the bookmakers. It is more on his attitudes. While he has been at odds with his club about the bonus payment (which for once I think the player has every right to claim – Blackpool promised the players a bonus if they stayed in the Championship last season, but when it actually over-achieved and got promoted, the club argued given it does not stay in the Championship then the players are not entitled to the payout), he kept his head down and still produced brilliant displays on the pitch despite the court actions. While his displays on the pitch attract the likes of Liverpool and Spurs who made a mega offer to him, and who can blame him that he wanted to move to a bigger club at the age of 24, he played with his heart on the sleeve despite making a written transfer request. If any firm made me an offer that doubles my current salary and much better career prospect, I would doubt anyone would call me Judas if I wanted to leave my current employer and somehow affect my performance in the office.

If the above still does not convince you, last night’s Blackpool game at White Hart Lane should. After he missed his first penalty which to be fair was not a bad shot and on target, he has been asked to take the second one after that crazy Gomes gave out cheaply within a minute. Anyone can understand if he does not want to take the challenge, but look around the Blackpool team can you find anyone who is more upto the task? So he took up his captain’s responsibility and did what he is asked to do from the spot. It takes loads of courage to a man who is only 24 years old and he certainly won my respect here. As a Boro fan who saw my club spent 2 million for Kris Boyd and more money on other Scottish players (well I still have hopes on Kevin Thompson) and I wonder why we can’t have a Charlie Adam in our team.

Good luck to Blackpool – as a neutral I would love to see Blackpool staying in the top flight even I am not a big fan of Ian Holloway. I think they have been unlucky in losing its regular goal-keeper Gilkes for most of the second half of the season, who has been consistent and steady and the rejuvenation of form of Blackpool coincides with his return. Anyway we will see whether the Tangarines will stay in the top flight in a fortnight but one way or other Charlie Adam, who has been my player of the season, would relish progressing in his career in a “bigger” club next season.