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Michael Lam is a graduate of HKMU's Bachelor of Business Administration with Honours in Sports and eSports Management. He spent his childhood in the United States and Canada, where he first heard of Ice Hockey. Michael did not get a chance to actually play it until he moved to Hong Kong in 2000s. He then started in Ice Hockey by learning ice-skating and participating competitions. “It's a never-ending journey. I really enjoy the thrill of high-speed gliding and maneuvering around opponents,” Michael said excitedly.

Started playing Ice Hockey as a leisure activity, Michael then became a coach, and even establishing his own Ice Hockey academy, successfully turning his interest into his career. Ice hockey was not a very popular sports years ago, but nowadays it gains its popularity and even became the theme of TV series. Despite the trend, Michael always maintain his enthusiasm in winter sports, and even picking up curling. The coldness of ice skating rinks does not bother Michael in keeping his passion. He devotes himself into mentoring, guiding teenagers to grow through playing sports, and helping them to embrace lives with fulfillment. Overcoming the COVID slump, Michael changed his approach in business and started to explore new areas. He therefore pursue study at HKMU, obtaining the knowledge to transform his company to cope with the new rising trend – eSports.

Turning interest into profession and nurturing young talents

Michael moved to Hong Kong in 2002 and settled in Sham Shui Po by the time. One day, he occasionally bumped into an Ice Hockey event at Dragon Centre, which was his first time playing the sport. He started with practicing his skating skills, and managed to participate in competitions after half year of training. He was obsessed with the thrill gained from the fast paced games. As an English teacher at that time, Michael obtained valuable experience in educating teenagers, and this led to an opportunity of being an Ice Hockey coach at his friend’s organisation. “I obtained team management skills from the 7 years of coaching. To achieve the goal of being the top coach, I then travelled to the States to take an advanced instructor course,” said Michael. 2014 was a remarkable year in terms of Michael’s career, when he established Kung Pow Kings Hockey Ltd. The name might sound funny, as it makes fun of the “CBC” (Canadian-born Chinese) identity of its founder.

The academy upholds the mission of training up young athletes and teams. Back then, Ice Hockey was not a popular sport, and there were limited organisations offering relevant courses, so Michael aimed to fill the gap. “We weren’t doing winter sports in the beginning,” he laughed, and explained that they mainly offered Inline Hockey and Dryland Hockey courses to give teenagers the taste of Hockey and build up the fundamental skills for future developments. The industry grew over the last decade and more competitors rose up. Despite the tension among competitors, Michael remains consistent with his aspirations. “The key values of our academy are: coach with positive approaches, stay supportive, active communications and let the teens learn from trial and error,” he shared. Instead of blindly chasing victories, Michael has a bigger dream, “I hope our students not only gain sports experiences, but also build all-round development and contribute to the society.”

Mastering Ice Hockey and Curling

During the pandemic, Michael’s company has to follow the COVID protocols and alter the regular group trainings into outdoor trainings in groups of 4. He said that it was a tough time, but they made it through. The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics spurred a trend of winter sports, which shed light on Ice Hockey as well. Michael pointed out that the future of Ice Hockey is positive, but this requires more public rinks for trainings – this helps ease the high cost of renting venues and the teams can focus on trainings. As such, Michael set up a synthetic ice rink. Not only does it provide extra space for trainings, the high friction of the rink increases the difficulty. Athletes have to better use their muscles and increase the speed while playing on it, which helps enhance their skills.

Michael thinks age is not a problem when it comes to playing Ice Hockey. He is still passionate in playing matchers after 20 years of experience. 6 years ago when he was coaching in Luxembourg, he was exposed to another winter sport – Curling. Unlike Ice Hockey, Curling has a slower pace, and this brings another kind of joy to Michael. “Curling is a highly strategic sport,” he said. The team has to plan for the force, angle and speed for each delivery. Michael has been active in Curling in recent years, winning the second runner up in the Open Division of Hong Kong Curling Cup and representing Hong Kong to participate in the World Mixed Curling Competition in Scotland.

Returning to school to learn about the latest technologies

The reason Michael took a degree programme at HKMU is to gain further knowledge for his career development. “The programme I took offered valuable knowledge on the sports industry. I was really keen to study the topic 'eSports’,” he said. Although Michael has always been a fan of computer games, he never really explore eSports from a business perspective. His goal is to apply the knowledge to his company, “My initial thought is to add in virtual elements into sports, such as VR trainings. There are existing systems in the market but still there are plenty room to explore and consider how to best apply these technologies to different sports,” he said. He was impressed by the programme offered by HKMU, as it brought him new insights not just for work, but also on social aspects. For example, one of the courses focused on studying the considerations and behaviours of parents towards children’s athletic development, this helped Michael with his company's strategic planning.

Returning school at a mature age, he remains curious about the younger generation. As an individual who have more experience in the commercial sector, he came up with the below advice, “Don’t be afraid of adventures and taking risks. Go out there and experience something. You never know how far you can go without trying. Also, effective communication is key to success. It is important to acknowledge and appreciate the diversity of individuals, striving to find common ground and foster mutual understanding.”