A 20 year veteran of the club, our former president, and the founder of our fabulous annual LIVE tournament… ladies and gentlemen let’s give it up for Libon.
Name: Libon F.
Team: I was in Powerball
Number of Years Playing: since end of 1999
Been with the Spikers since: end of 1999
Hello Libon. Tell us about your early The-World-Of-Suzie-Wong days back in Wanchai, Hong Kong circa (well you fill you in the blank)… what brought you to London and why are you still here?
I was born on 1 January 1966. My early life in Hong Kong had been very much around my parents’ store in the market, my school in Wanchai and after school afternoon tea with my girly friends. To me Hong Kong was just a few squared miles small. When I came to London, I realised that everything seemed so much bigger in every single sense. ;-)
What brought me to London? A coach from Manchester as a matter of fact.
Back then London was a pretty foggy city. My BA flight from Hong Kong had to divert to Manchester some 35 years ago.
Perhaps it was fate that brought me here to be honest. Somehow I could not get into the University of Hong Kong but I managed to get accepted by a world class university instead.
15 years ago, when you started LIVE, what was your inspiration? It’s a lot of working organising that tournament. Share with us how some of your favourite LIVE stories over the years.
I began my journey with Spikers as an absolute beginner. During my earlier time with the Club, there were many opportunities to go abroad for overseas tournaments. Sydney Gay Games in 2002, Antwerp Halloween Tournament, Munich Eurogame in 2004 and many tournaments dotted in between. Until one day in February 2005, with the reflection of the snow from the outside of a café in Oslo, it became clear to the few of us there participating at the Oslo Tournament that it’s about time we should have our own tournament. After all, how could London Spikers miss out from the European Volleyball Tournament calendar?
The idea of a London hosted tournament was sprung out from there. We wanted to differentiate ourselves from the rest. We wanted something more intimate, international and yet competitive tournament with every pound we collected from the registration channelled back to it. The word ‘Extravaganza’ just came straight into our head. LIVE, London International Volleyball Extravaganza, was instantly crowned to be the name of our tournament.
The early editions of LIVE were no doubt intimate and anything but international. We had only 9 teams participating of which only two were from Europe in the first LIVE. We struggled to attract teams from the Continent due to the high pound and the bad press from those badly-behaved Spikers who played in overseas tournaments. We passed a resolution at the Committee that anyone who went abroad to play in a tournament carrying our Club’s name must adhere to best behaviour and proper protocol. Gradually over time, with the help of our newly found ambassadors, LIVE firmly secured its pin on the European volleyball calendar.
I always loved the energy from the courts during the tournament play. However, my most memorable moment from LIVE has to be the performance by Bearonce and Gigi Gaga. When Sidney came out from the stage door, he just brought the whole house down!
Of course, my performance with my sisters Mark and Taku in two numbers from Dreamgirls was just as memorable as Bearonce and Gigi Gaga on a much more personal level. I could still picture my totally out of sync dance routine during the rehearsal and the pain of wearing the high hells in that performance after a full day playing on the volleyball court.
Given your Anglicised name, I gather you are a big fan of Duran Duran? (for Millennials, see this link)
Not really. I know who Duran Duran and Simon Le Bon were but hardly got into their music.
You were President of the club for a bit. What were some of the more demanding responsibilities required in the role and how would you rate Sidney’s overall performance? Let discuss her ASSessment right here.
I was the president for a short transition period. However ever since I joined the Club, I had very much been actively involving in the Club Committee business. Anthony and I always believe that unless London Spikers become a truly safe and non-judgemental place, it would not act as a magnet to attract those who would want to play friendly and yet competitive volleyball.
The challenge to the Club has always been about ensuring a harmony among our players with diverse cultural background, level of technical and communication skills. We have seen over the years that there are many of us volunteering their time and afford selflessly to ensure the running of the Club. The future success of this Club owes to this goodwill factor. Knowing how to manage the value and contribution from our volunteers would guarantee many years of success. Failing to do so would just sends us back years of development.
I have been out of volleyball for a long while. I must say I am not quite following any new development at the Club. However, judging from the number of teams participating at LIVE this year, no doubt Sidney has been doing a good job.
Tell us about your day job (and night job too if one exists)…
I have been a lecturer at Birkbeck for more than 22 years. I love what I do.
How many fur coats do you own?
Maggie Cheung or Carina Lau?
Andy Lau or Jacky Cheung?
As you are no stranger to the European volleyball circuit, give us a rundown on your favourite tournaments and best times.
Berlin tournament – always well organised and fair competition. The fact that we won gold from 0:1 down was an amazing feeling.
Munich Eurogame 2014 – first time participated with my self-created team Joyluck. We lost every match but had a blast on and off the court.
Prague – don’t remember the year but that’s the tournament when Sidney missed his flight to join us. We had to borrow a player from Prague but we still won gold (ok ok winning is not everything but it certainly tastes better).
So the protests in Hong Kong over the past month have taken a turn towards… you know maybe let’s skip that. You like bubble tea?
I am a coffee person.
What have you learned from playing in an organised sports team? What can you apply from your volleyball life to your non-volleyball life?
Communication, understanding and cooperation are utmost important for a team-sport. This applies equally to workplace where we most likely work with each other in teamwork.
I am in the position at my job that there are many other academic colleagues and administrative team reporting back to me. I never tell anyone off even if they have made mistakes. I believe in addressing the issue, investigating where the problem lies and finding a solution to fix it and prepare for the future. This goes to volleyball.
Tell us about 3 of your top highlights of your time in the club.
There are so many good memories and I don’t even know how to choose one event as a highlight, let alone the top three. Having said that seeing how the Club grow from strength to strength is absolutely assuring. But the friendships that I have nurtured in my time would be the best reward that I would not have dreamed of. I remember when I announced to the Club at the end of one Sunday play that I was going to celebrate my 25th years in London at Spread-eagle, everyone brought me a drink. I drank so much that I did not remember much happening. But I know one thing for sure: even though my memory might be hazy, I know my friends from Volleyball were there for me.
Besides volleyball, teaching, and drinking the blood of innocent virgins, what else do you do in your free time?
I love your casual reference to my drinking the blood of innocent virgins, though I doubt if they are really virgins (hehe). Tennis and travelling would be my two other hobbies.