JJ Lai is a libero from Hong Kong and he is seeking for the new team or a new agent who will help him find a professional team anywhere in the world. Let’s read his story.
Volleyball is not that popular sport in Hong Kong, but you fell in love with it! How did you come up with an idea to become a part of volleyball family?
“Actually, most of the secondary schools have volleyball team, it’s not really not that popular, many people are playing volleyball in Hong Kong. We have 4 divisions, 8 teams in each division except division 4 where everyone can apply for the competition, and over 100 teams, even 200 will apply the division 4 each year. So how I fell in love with volleyball was that one day I was playing volleyball with my classmate in the secondary school during the lunchtime, and the volleyball coach came to ask me to join the volleyball team, that’s how it started. Also, I watched the World Grand Prix on TV every year when I was a child. I love how the players are giving an effort, so it makes me feel volleyball is a very special and challenging sport.“
In the last season in Hong Kong, you’ve managed to win the championship trophy. How important was this moment for your career development?
„That was the important experience for my volleyball career as I didn’t play the top division before. Before I joined to the team, they got the third place for the last season, and they told me that they really need a libero which can improve their passing and digging. And it was very lucky that i could help the team to achieve what we want, and it made me feel that i have the ability to achieve more in volleyball career like professional league, that’s one of the reasons why i went to Germany to know more about myself.“
How would you describe volleyball league in Hong Kong?
„Not that good. Most of the players cannot 100% focus on volleyball due to work as we don’t have salary when we’re playing for the team . In the division 1, most of the teams have training 3-5 times a week, but all of the trainings only at night like 8-11pm. Except the students who have lessons like me , most of the players need to work in the morning to afternoon like 9am-5pm, after a long day, it’s very difficult to focus on training at night, and after a few hours of sleeping time, they need to start the new day again. That’s how our players live, we play volleyball and it only can be a hobby, not a career, that’s why the league will not be the top level in the world. But many players have the potential to get better, For example, one of the players were invited by the team in Thailand last year, he was the first person who played professional league. A few years ago, my ex-teammate was invited by the University from Korea, and he’s going to get their citizenship so he can play the Korean league in the future, some teams in Korea already gave him an offer. But even how bad the league is, i will try to pay all my effort on volleyball as I still don’t need to worry about work.“
Below in the video, there is a game of JJ Lai as a libero. He is in the black jersey.
Are you following some other volleyball leagues in the world?
„Yes. I am following both men and women in Korea, Japan, Germany, Russia. As I still seeking a chance to play outside, I need to know the level and prepare more before I could get a chance.“
Last year, you got a chance to practice with the German side TSV Herrsching – how would you describe this experience?
„That was really great experience for me. I didn’t think that I’m going to be a professional player before i went to Germany as I don’t have professional experience. But after I joined the training, I just know that I could handle the professional level and I have the potential to get better, that was how their coaches told me. And it makes me feel that I should focus on professional volleyball, even not the level like Germany, I will try anywhere if it’s professional, with contract, 100% focus on volleyball, that’s what I want.“
How important was that moment to play and practice with the players of TSV Herrsching?
„That was important to me as they are definitely different compared with Hong Kong. Their height will be higher, so I could get to know more about that height while I was playing defense or passing. I think the speed is not a big difference here as the players in Hong Kong can be very strong either, but the height is really important to me as that’s the common professional level. Also, their defense or passing skills are not really better than Asian as we move a lot while playing defense, it makes me feel that I could get an opportunity to play in Europe and really close to be a professional player.“
What are your volleyball strengths and what are your volleyball weaknesses?
„My volleyball strengths should be the skills in defense and passing, as most of the Asian, I worked a lot on underhand skills training since I started to play volleyball rather than spiking or blocking. Without professional experience is the weakness that I care about, it’s always difficult to start the first step without professional experience.“
Which volleyball game you rate as the best in your career?
„The first time I got the championship in the university game when I was year one as it was the first time I started playing libero in the high-level competition in Hong Kong.“
What are your career plans for the future?
„First, I hope to find an agent or team so that I can start my professional career which is the most important thing at the moment, and second, I would try to show my best on the professional stage so that I could earn more opportunities on the professional careers in the future.“
Where would you like to play next season?
„Any professional league,“ says JJ Lai for WorldofVolley at the end of the interview.
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