For those of you not familiar with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), the GAA is an Irish and international amateur sporting and cultural organisation, focused primarily on promoting Gaelic Games, which include the traditional Irish sports of Hurling and Gaelic Football. The GAA is notoriously popular for teachers living abroad.
We caught up with Chairman of Hong Kong GAA Club, Kevin Chan on living in Hong Kong and the GAA scene there. Founded in 1995, Hong Kong Gaelic Athletic Association is one of Asia's oldest and most successful GAA clubs. Today they have men and women, from all over the world, playing Gaelic football, hurling and camogie, and of course enjoying all the "craic" that comes with being part of Hong Kong's best sports club.
How long been living in Hong Kong?
I've been living in Hong Kong two and a half years now.
GAA club back home?
Confey, in Kildare
Can you tell us a little bit about the Hong Kong GAA scene?
It's the best way to meet people in HK. Most people come here knowing nobody at all so it’s great to meet a bunch of new people all passionate about the sport. One of the best elements of the club is watching members who aren’t Irish go from never playing - or watching - GAA before to become accomplished players representing us in regional tournaments. Both squads grow bigger and bigger each year and we always manage to get a good few socials into the calendar as well.
Greatest Hong Kong GAA moment?
Winning the Hurling competition in 2015 was brilliant; the boys on the team made it feel just like winning with your club at home. It was great to win it with them especially as I joined the club a few weeks after they had lost the previous final so the victory meant a lot.
How many teams?
This differs per tournament but usually we have two men’s teams and three women’s teams depending on how many can make the tournament.
When and where do you train?
We train in the most picturesque field you'll see in your life. It’s in the middle of Happy Valley race course so we play with the iconic Hong Kong skyline behind us. We usually have training once a week after work or twice a week in the run-up to a tournament.
We play a few different tournaments and there's new a ladies league which started this year. In the middle of the summer there is the All China Games, then a new Hurling only tournament in September. The season finishes with the large regional tournament the All Asia Games at the end of the year.
If someone is interested in joining how do they go about it?
Just head over to the website and fill in your details on the link https://www.gaa.hk/contact-us and we will be sure to add you to the team Whatsapp groups.
Can you tell us about the expat lifestyle in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong life is pretty amazing. Everyone lives within 20 minutes of each other so you'll always find someone up to some mischief and there's something going on at the weekends. Hong Kong can be extremely claustrophobic at times - there are 7 million people living on a few islands- but we are only 30 minutes away from some amazing beaches or some great hikes.
What's the expat community like?
Hong Kong is a very transient city so you’re guaranteed to make friends quickly. The expat community are a pretty adventurous bunch so you’ll usually find someone off travelling for the weekend. The city often has the feel of a university campus; everyone knows everyone else and you’ll be sure to run into a mate if you’re out for the night or even just on a run.
What advice would you have for new expats coming over?
Get involved! If you don't join GAA (which I would of course advocate) then join another sports team there are hundreds to choose from. Or if sports isn’t your thing there are loads of societies and interest groups across the city to get involved in. The first few months are a bit disorientating so don’t worry if you spend most of your time going from one free wifi spot to another trying to get google maps to load - most of us still do.
The social life in HK is pretty amazing but when you get a quiet weekend to yourself the hiking and the beaches are always brilliant. Hong Kong is also a great hub to travel around Asia from.
Living so far away from family and friends at home isn't great but lots of them do come to visit and get to experience HK for a few days which is always great.
Finally, who's going to win this years All Ireland Football and Hurling Championship?
The west awakes this year I'd say with Mayo in the football and Galway in the hurling.
For camogie probably Cork and for ladies football it’s going to be Cork.
Want to teach and play GAA in Hong Kong? Check out our teaching jobs here: https://www.workawayrecruitment.com/hong-kong-teaching-jobs
We are always happy to speak to teachers so get in touch and we can discuss new teaching opportunities to get you started on your next adventure.