The gilded 90s conditioned optimism into a generation of people. Pop culture and a booming economy spread sentiments of hope and belief wide and far. In a watered down version of the American Dream, everyone believed that everyone else would “make it.” People were a Hollywood script away from believing that a janitor sweeping university floors could become the next great mind of his generation.
When the realities of the recession of the late 2000s hit home, a strange thing happened. People stopped believing that something special could happen to them, yet many cynically believed that “it” could still happen to everyone else.
Now, stories like Vicky Chung Pui-ki’s have become a paradox in the age of social media and information overload: they are simultaneously always worth re-telling and always overlooked. The real American Dream is still alive, it now just lives on the other side of the planet.
Vicky Chung Pui-Ki is a 16-year-old living in Fanling, Hong Kong, and she is a reminder that soccer has the power to do so much more than bring people together once a week to watch their favorite team on TV. It is a game that can change lives.
Rebellious, daughter to a deaf and mute single mother, and prone to hanging out with a bad crowd, Vicky was hardly a model child. When her friends weren’t teasing her mother for having to use sign language, Vicky would “scold her with bad words” herself. It wasn’t until a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity showed itself to Vicky that she began to rethink how she wanted to live her life.
Vicky took part in the Allianz Junior Football Cup in Hong Kong and was named Most Valuable Player, winning a trip to Germany and a chance to train with Bayern Munich in the process. The trip provided a look into the lives of professional players, and, in the process, made Vicky imagine a different path.
That trip to Germany was a major step in the journey toward Vicky becoming her own woman. She has dedicated herself to honing her skills on the pitch, and that discipline has seeped into other aspects of her life as well.
She is no longer the girl who stays out until dawn. No, soccer has made her into a young adult that has “decided to be exceptional at something to keep people from laughing” at her mother.
She is making great strides as a soccer player. She currently plays right midfielder or right-back for the Hong Kong U-19s, and she says that she can kick the ball farther and is more explosive than her peers.
Now, Vicky is an inspiration to her family. Her brother, who confesses that he was not “a good kid either,” has returned to school after dropping out at 17, and credits Vicky’s achievements as a soccer player as the catalyst for him re-entering school.
With the world quite literally at her feet, and the loving support of her family, Vicky’s future is looking bright as ever. Towards the end of the video below, Vicky asks her mother what kind of person she would like Vicky to be, her mother answers with the dream that so many grow up with. Vicky translates for the camera: “After I grow up I can do anything, as long as I’m happy.”
Watch the video feature here.
Courtesy of South China Morning Post. You will have to watch it on their website, as they do not allow embedding. It is worth your time, we highly recommend you give it a watch.