Extra training for new stars of rugby
You might think that athletes could take a long break after major tournaments. But this is not the case for 40elite players selected by the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) and HSBC. The union and the bank co-organised a training camp for the most outstanding performers at the first All Hong Kong Inter-School Rugby Sevens competition.
The inaugural tournament was held last month, and players of B grade (under-16) and C grade (under-14) battled it out.
Choi Hung Estate Catholic Secondary School and the Hong Kong Management Association K S Lo College won the boys' and girls' trophies.
Of course only one team can be champions, but it doesn't mean the defeated players have no talent. Fan Shun-kei, the former Hong Kong scrum half player who is now a skills development coach at the HKRFU, went to see the boys' matches and picked some 40 players for further training starting from July. Notably, these players are all from local Chinese schools.
The organisers arranged a meeting on May 24 with Hong Kong team players Cado Lee Ka-to, Alex Ng Wai-shing and Salom Yiu Kam-shing - all of whom would play two days later in the final match of the HSBC Asian Five Nations 2012 at Mong Kok Stadium.
During the training, the national players and coach Fan taught some basics and practised passing and receiving on the field.
'Our school only hired a rugby coach three months ago and we didn't proceed to the final stage of the tournament,' says 15-year-old Lai Wing-hei of TWGHs S.C. Gaw Memorial College. 'So I was shocked when I received an e-mail telling me I could join this further training. It is amazing to get such a chance.'
Chau Tung-fai, of Cheung Sha Wan Catholic Secondary School, used to compete in the 100m sprint and long jump. His skinny build set him apart from other players. 'I think I need more time to adapt to the training, as I've never had such an intensive session before,' says the winger. 'My school didn't have enough players to form a rugby team and I only joined to help the team get the minimum number to join the tournament, so this is unexpected. But I will work on my fitness to get better for the training [which starts next month].'
Hugo Chui Ho-ching, 16, of St Stephen's College, has played for the national under-14 squad and is now training with the under-16s. He says he could feel the passion of all the players at the event.
Diocesan Boys' School student Joshua Chan, 16, also joined the training. Joshua is the football team captain at DBS and he made 10 tries during the whole inter-school tournament. 'I find rugby interesting, and my pace on the field gives me an advantage,' he says.
'Most of our players are beginners, so we don't have much time for training before next year's tournament,' says coach Fan. 'I also hope today's try-outs will give them a little pressure to work well in their academic studies.
Since the first session will be after their exams, if they don't do well, their schools may have extra classes for them!'