Goals for girls
For a city-savvy Hong Kong teenager, moving to a school in a remote part of rural England might not be appealing.
But for rugby-mad Rosie Fong, starting school at East Durham and Houghall Community College is a dream come true.
The former Sha Tin College student is the first female player to earn one of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union's (HKRFU) Charitable Trust education scholarships.
The 16-year-old will start on the school's unique Sports Development Programme this month, and will develop her skills while studying for her A-Levels.
The HK$20,000 annual scholarship will go towards tuition fees at the school, which runs a series of sports programmes for talented teenagers.
Rosie has steered her way through the union's youth rugby development programmes here, and has had HKRFU support for her education in Hong Kong since 2004.
She has represented Flying Kukris Club at age-group level, and was the youngest member selected for the under-19 Hong Kong squad last year. She can't wait to start at her new school.
'The grounds are fantastic - it's basically a village for sports,' she said.
'I want to move to England so I can play against a higher standard every week. There will be about 15 girls doing the rugby programme in my year. It will make me a better player.'
HKRFU officials hope Rosie's success will attract more girls to local clubs.
'We hope that Rosie will be an encouragement to all young people to give rugby a go,' said HKRFU community manager Brandon Huang.
'Her enthusiasm and commitment is a great example. She's a good role model for others.'
Rosie has been addicted to rugby since she was seven. 'It's an adrenalin rush,' she says.
'There are so many technicalities to learn about the game, and there are always areas to improve. You're always thinking about the next move, strategies, and tactics. It keeps your mind occupied. I try not to be predictable.'
There is no professional rugby for women to aim for, but Rosie knows what she wants from her training.
'I hope this experience will help me qualify as a physiotherapist. I want to be the physio for the England men's rugby team one day. I'm serious about rugby, and I believe this will set me up for the future.'
Last year the trust fund distributed over HK$500,000 in grants to 43 applicants from the local rugby community to support their local and overseas education. Rugby players aged 12 to 22 can claim for up to five years.
Last year, Hartpury College in England began offering full tuition scholarships worth HK$135,000 per year to Hong Kong rugby juniors. So far, two have been accepted - Justin Thirlwell and Li Chi-yung.
To apply visit www.hkrugby.com
Women's Rugby in Hong Kong
*Began in 1992 with seven-a-side teams.
*Now 12 senior women's teams playing in two divisions.
*Girls mini-rugby for under-7, 10, 11, and 12.
*Girls colts rugby for under-14, 16, and 20.
*Hong Kong age-group teams travel overseas for tournaments.
*New schools league for seven-a-side teams.
*Annual one-day tournament on March 25, for all levels.
*Venues include Happy Valley, Shek Kip Mei, So Kon Po, Aberdeen, King's Park.
*This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Hong Kong Women's International Sevens.
*The Asian Women's Sevens Championship has been held here twice.
*Hong Kong wants to host the first Women's Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2009.
Get with the programme
Other sports opportunities:
Basketball - The Hong Kong Basketball Association (www.basketball.org.hk) organises the annual Youth Training Scheme. Call the HKBA on 2504 8181
Football - The Hong Kong Football Association (www.hkfa.com) runs the annual Youth Football Scheme. Call the HKFA on 2768 8825
Swimming - The Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association (www.hkasa.org.hk) runs the Swimming Technical Improvement Scheme. Call the ASA on 2572 8594
Tennis - The Hong Kong Tennis Association (www.tennishk.org) runs its Junior Development Programme. Call 2504 8266
Athletics - Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (www.hkaaa.com) runs the Youth Track and Field Training Scheme. Call 2504 8215