On the Game - HK's Gay Sporting Team


Arthur Tam journeys into the world of gay sports, where it’s not all about the whacking, the balls and the big sticks

If you consider gay activities in Hong Kong outside of the bar and club realm, you might be at a loss. Gay watering holes provide a mingling hub for gay men and (sometimes) women who cherish the nightlife scene – but for those who aren’t into drinking, booty shaking or prowling for a date, these places may not make for the most comfortable atmosphere. But where else, then, can a gay person seek out similarly minded members of the same sex outside of a club or pub?
Sports. For some, that’s where the solution can be found. Sure, some people may believe gay men don’t belong in the world of sports because of the age-old perception that they lack the same ‘machismo’ that straight men do. This skewed viewpoint results in gay and lesbian athletes fearing to reveal their sexual orientation due to potential homophobic backlash. But times are a-changing. In fact, the sports world seems like the perfect playground to harness the power of the gays with its emphasis on fitness and fun. Believe it or not, Hong Kong has gay and gay-friendly sports teams to join, so you can literally huddle and beat some sticks together. Here’s a round-up of three sports to get involved in…

Got an itch in your leg that you need to shake out? Why not kick a ball around with Hong Kong’s premier gay footy team, One Nil? Three years ago, Peter Sabine and Janson Mui met each other and discovered their mutual love of the beautiful game. Sabine admits that football ‘is not usually the right environment to be openly gay in’ – but that didn’t stop him and Mui from seeking other guys to share their passion.

One Nil has now grown into a team with about 20 members who play weekly games around Happy Valley and Causeway Bay. They also participate in the V Sports League against non-gay teams. For Sabine, the purpose of the team is now ‘to help anyone who’s not typically in the LGBT environment to be more comfortable about themselves and have a group of friends they can just talk to’. To join the lads contact Pete Sabine at onenilhk@gmail.com.

Ever watched the Thai movie The Iron Ladies? Well, Hong Kong hasn’t yet progressed to the point of having its own transgender volleyball team – but we do have the Hong Kong Super League, which is comprised of six to eight teams of gay players and a few non-gay players spiking some fierce balls. These boys take their game seriously and come from competitive ‘mainstream’ leagues as well – but they participate in HKSL to build a sense of community for LGBT members. Just last year, the league held its first Pink Season Cup (which was part of Pink Season – Hong Kong’s three-month-long LGBT festival) to build a presence that they are an out-and-proud league. Alan Wong, the co-ordinator of HKSL, hopes that the league can start hosting more international games. “They always have gay volleyball tournaments in Thailand and other parts of Asia,” he says, “so we want it be a regular thing in Hong Kong.” Players practice weekly at the Shek Tong Tsui Sports Centre out in Sai Wan, preparing for their next big local and international tournaments. The league is meant for experienced players, though. To join the league contact Alan Wong at alanwmc726@yahoo.com.hk.

Ice hockey
Ice hockey in Hong Kong? Pull the other one! No – it’s true. The sport exists ‘out’ and ‘openly’ thanks to Brad Pfeffer and the creation of the Hong Kong Community Athletic Development group. Last year Pfeffer took it upon himself to create an adult ice hockey group which he was keen to make gay-friendly. “It wasn’t my original intention to make it gay,” he claims, “but I would say 95 percent of the members are.” The group has now had 250 people passing through to see if they can pass a puck while skating on ice. It practices every Saturday at the Dragon Centre in Sham Shui Po from 10pm to 1am and the players are taught by Hong Kong’s national team coach. The group also provides a free two-week trial with all the equipment included for anyone who wants to give the sport a go. 

For Pfeffer, HKCAD has become an outlet for gay men who aren’t particularly up for socialising with other dudes in bars. “We want to provide a gay-friendly environment,” he admits, “for an activity which is not stereotypically gay. Ice hockey provides the right image for those who are terrified of being labelled as being gay. Many of our members still aren’t ‘out’ and feel isolated from their families and their community. But here, they can be comfortable and be themselves.” Visit hkcad.org or email info@hkcad.org. 


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