HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens debutants playonPROS confirm all-star squad

HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens debutants playonPROS have confirmed an all-star squad for this month’s Masters Tournament with Emile Heskey, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Mikael Silvestre, David James and Colin Hendry set to head to Hong Kong Football Club.

Regi Blinker, Des Walker, Phil Babb, Paul Dickov, Lee Hendrie and Michael Hughes complete playonPROS’ squad, which is compiled entirely of former internationals, for the May 26-28 annual seven-a-side tournament as they make their first-ever appearance at an event.

Playon, which is an initiative by former England international Viv Anderson that looks to offer both current and former professionals the chance to save for their futures and build a life outside of the game, have been drawn in Group B alongside Wallsend Boys Club, Kowloon Cricket Club Veterans, HKFC Chairman’s Select and Yau Yee League Masters.

“The Hong Kong Soccer Sevens is, I know, a fantastic event in a fantastic city,” said former Chelsea and Netherlands striker Hasselbaink. “I can’t wait to take part.”

PlayonPROS are set to challenge defending champions Citi All Stars, who have already confirmed a squad that includes Frank Sinclair, Michael Mols, Luis Boa Morte, Marvin Andrews and 2016 Masters Tournament MVP David Thompson, for the title.

HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens 2017 draw at Hong Kong Football Club. Photo by Victor Fraile/Power Sport Images

“As a playon ambassador, I’m delighted that the company will take part in its first tournament in Hong Kong, and we are in it to win it!” said former Liverpool and England striker Heskey.

Citi All Stars line-up in Group A alongside 2016 finalists USRC, Singapore Cricket Club Tigers, HKFC Masters and Discovery Bay.

“It’s going to be like old times again taking part in the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens,” said former Manchester United and France defender Silvestre. “It’s a very prestigious tournament and I am very much looking forward to taking part. It is going to be lots of fun.”

Playon also aim to maintain a player’s brand following retirement to make the transition as smooth as possible as their lives take a new direction.

“I know how lonely it can get out there as an ex-player,” said former Feyenoord and Netherlands midfielder Blinker. “Now with playon I’m playing on and it’s great to feel part of a team again. I hope the Hong Kong fans will enjoy watching playonPROS.”

Citi All Stars won the Masters Tournament at the 2016 HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens. Photo by Lim Weixiang/Power Sport Images

Another playon initiative is to bridge the gap between players and fans by facilitating interaction between former professionals and those who followed them during their career.

“The playon concept is one of the most exciting opportunities ever offered to players ­- either those still with clubs or those who are retired,” said former Nottingham Forest, Arsenal, Manchester United defender Anderson.

“We offer a savings scheme, the chance to play on, the kind of connection and camaraderie that so many lose when they hang up their boots.

“This will be playon’s debut at a tournament, and we are delighted that it will be at the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens, one of the most prestigious of its kind in the world.

“Our playonPROS are very excited about visiting Hong Kong and showing their skills to the Hong Kong public. This is an exciting time for playon and we are delighted that we will be making our public bow at the Hong Kong Sevens.”