HOAPA Asia Launches at MIHT19 Malaysia!
HOAPA made its Asian launch official at the Malaysia International Inline Hockey Tournament this past week in Kuala Lumpur. What a great experience to be a part of!
From top to bottom the organizers ran a first class event at the Arena PJ.
As an expat who’s only been living in Asia for a few years, this was my first experience at the infamous MIHT event. Word on the street was that this is the premier hockey tournament in all of Asia which was bold considering my experience at the ice hockey tournaments in Bangkok which have all been tremendous.
When I would ask people why it was so popular the response was almost always the same, “Go. You’ll see. It’s unlike any other tournament in the world”!
The HOAPA Taiwan team would represent Kaohsiung and the brand for the first time. The brand would also set up a booth to show and explain the new products as well as allowing players to test and purchase products during games.
As this was my first trip to Malaysia, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea what the response would be from the customers regarding our new brand and products. Conversely as a player I had no idea what the level of competition would be like as there were teams and players from all over the world representing their countries in the event.
Teams from India, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and Taiwan would compete in a ten team adult division for the Championship of Asia! Additionally teams from India, Hong Kong and Malaysia competed in an exciting youth division. A handful of players from France, Belgium, Iran, UK, Whales, Canada and a lone American (yours truly ;) we’re mixed in to the teams as well.
From the very beginning I could see what made this tournament so special. Every angle of the tournament was thoughtfully organized to provide the players with a comfortable and fun experience. All transport was conveniently arranged and coordinated with the beautiful host hotel, the Hilton PJ. At many hockey events I’ve attended in Asia transportation can be challenging, especially getting to and from the rink. Having this settled made everything more enjoyable.
In addition the youth and adult games were mixed throughout the day, creating an electric atmosphere at the outdoor PJ Arena. The games were all well attended with a fun, engaged crowd. You can really feel how everyone was just taking in the international flair of the event.
The organizers also did a great job of handling the sponsors. There was a diverse range of sponsors, products and services at the event, many offering free snacks and drinks (the Milo booth and truck was amazing in the heat of the day J). There was also a local food truck on site for meals during the day.
Special shout-out also to the announcer as well.. you know who you are! Let’s just say her combination of announcing and hilarious color-commentary throughout the games was enjoyed thoroughly by all in attendance! I really wish more hockey events would do this, it made the atmosphere even better, more like the announcing at a American Football game mixed with humor.
As the tournament rolled into the playoffs and finals you could feel the intensity as all the teams truly wanted to earn the Championship. Despite the heightened intensity the sportsmanship throughout the event was excellent as there were no major altercations or issues. Credit the officials for keeping great control the entire three days.
In the end it was a storybook ending for the HOAPA team as we rolled our way to the Championship. As great as the wins felt, I believe everyone valued the new relationships above all else with so many new friendships created over the course of the three days. Ultimately everyone’s love of the sport brought us together and we all celebrated and feasted with an amazing after party a top a rooftop bar overlooking KL.
As a brand we couldn’t have been happier. The players all fully embraced our new brand and mission to make hockey more accessible to all. The feedback was tremendous and we ended up selling almost all the 40 sticks we came with!
Special thanks to Matthew Lee and the entire MIHT19 team for hosting such a tremendous event. It will be an experience we never forget!
The difference between this tournaments and the others for was simple. This wasn’t as much a tournament as it was an international celebration of the sport, bringing people together in a familiar setting that connects all of us. We can’t wait to do it again and defend the cup ;)