Konger FC is a football team in Manchester composed of Hong Kong natives who fled their home due to political turmoil.
In 2021, the founders Max, Leo, and Kan laid the foundation for Konger FC in Manchester, marking the beginning of an extraordinary journey.
This football team, born out of the political turmoil in Hong Kong, has become a beacon of hope and cultural representation for the Hong Kong community in the UK and Manchester.
We sat down with Ethan Wong, a key figure at Konger FC, who shed light on the challenges faced by the team in their new English football venture.
Ethan said: ” In 2020, the National Security Law, which further diminished the freedom of speech of people, was introduced in Hong Kong.
“In response to that, the British government launched the British Nation (Overseas) Visa (BN(O) Visa), which attracted a lot of Hongkongers to move to the U.K.
“A lot of us came to Manchester, and the team first started with less than 10 people who gathered together to join local seven-a-side leagues and to play casual games among themselves.”
The team comprises a mix of ex-professionals, students, and individuals from various walks of life, reflecting the broader Hong Kong community in Manchester.
A voice for Hong Kong
Ethan said: “We were lucky to be interviewed and have raised awareness about the current situation in Hong Kong.
“Although this is just the start of our journey, we are hopeful that we can introduce ourselves to larger groups of people in Manchester.
“In previous games, we had local supporters who came to watch us play and said that they were impressed by what we were doing.”
Ethan’s not joking either, as 500 attendees came down to watch their first match against Manchester Medics, showcasing the growing interest and support within the community.
He continued: “We also have players from the local community as well as players with different cultural backgrounds.
“We hope to promote Hong Kong culture by competing in the English football system and be promoted to higher divisions to raise the attention of local people.
“On the other hand, we have started youth team training to hopefully help kids from Hong Kong to develop into professional football players.
“These can help us grow into a larger community with a bigger fan base, so we can promote Hong Kong culture.”
Konger FC’s efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Wong proudly shares, “In previous games, we had local supporters who came to watch us play and said that they were impressed by what we were doing.
“We also have players from the local community and different cultural backgrounds.”
Vision for the Future: Football, Culture, and Community
The team aspires to promote Hong Kong culture through participation in the English football system.
Wong outlines their goals, “We hope to be promoted to higher divisions, attracting more attention.
“We’ve initiated youth team training, aiming to help kids from Hong Kong develop into professional football players and grow our community and fan base.”
Unforgettable Moments: Playing at Tranmere Rovers’ Stadium
Reflecting on their journey, Wong remarks, “The experience of playing at Tranmere Rovers’ stadium was memorable.
“It was a great opportunity to promote the Hong Kong community, not just for us but for the entire Hong Kong community in the U.K.”
Navigating Complexity: Political Challenges and Core Values
The political situation in Hong Kong casts a shadow over the team.
Ethan said: “The political situation in Hong Kong is so complicated that we never know where the line is set by the government.
“This causes a big threat to the players as they do not know whether playing for Konger FC is legal or not to the government, but we believe that we should not be self-censored and be afraid to speak out for our rights.
“While we are trying our best to promote ourselves in the local community, we will keep our core values in our hearts and raise the awareness of the public about Hong Kong affairs.”
Winning Hearts: Popular Support and FA Membership
Wong acknowledges the support received, saying, “Since joining the FA, we’ve become popular in the Hong Kong community, garnering online support.
However, we believe there’s more to do to reach the wider community in Manchester.”
Beyond Football: Advocating for Change
Konger FC’s ambitions extend beyond the football field. Ethan emphasised, “We hope to raise awareness about the political situation in Hong Kong and make a positive impact on our future.
Our long-term goal is to reach semi-professional levels and nurture talents in the Hong Kong community.”
Upholding Values: democracy and freedom
In conclusion, Wong reaffirms, “We will always keep our core values of democracy and freedom in our hearts, passing them on to the next generation. Konger FC is more than a football club; it’s a symbol of resilience, unity, and the unwavering spirit of Hong Kong.”
As Konger FC continues to make strides in the English football scene, their story serves as an inspiration, reminding us of the power of sport to transcend borders and bring communities together.
You can check in with Konger FC and see what they are up to on their instagram here