Day of silly squash raises HK$500,000
A Hongkonger wearing a purple hula skirt faced his opponent on a squash court at the Hong Kong Football Club yesterday. His competition was shirtless, and wore Bruno-style lederhosen. At the sound of a horn, they ran on the hardwood floor and repeatedly smacked a tiny black ball against walls with their racquets. They stopped after three minutes, and ran to separate courts to face a different challenger for another three-minute session.
The 11th annual Wing Ding Squash Tournament was in full swing yesterday, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Operation Santa Claus and its 13 beneficiaries.
'It's a very hard physical test [on the courts] but what you can see around and about are people willing to help, people putting their heart and soul into raising money for people who really do need our help,' said Tim Everest, the Wing Ding's co-ordinator. 'I feel really proud of what we're achieving here.'
Fourteen teams, with eight members each, took part in the event yesterday. And every team had its own funny, campy or outrageous costume. There were green spiky wig-wearers; there were construction workers in hard hats and orange safety vests; there were Aladdin look-a-likes; there were cross-dressing Santas. Even the timekeeper, a 14-year-old named Jenny Tang, broke out her old Halloween costume; she was Moses.
Julian Ragless has been playing in the Wing Ding tournament for 10 of its 11 years, and helped organise the annual happening in its early days.
'It's the only event of the year in the entire squash calendar where all the clubs get together in one place, to have fun, to play squash and in recent years to raise a fairly considerable amount of money for charity,' he said.
From 2004 till last year, the event raised over HK$1.35 million for Operation Santa Claus, the annual fund-raiser co-organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.
'It's a great cause, and it's a great tournament, and people have fun doing it,' added Fook Aun Chew, chairman of the Hong Kong Football Club. 'The club is happy to offer them the facilities. It's good to be part of the wider outreach that Operation Santa offers.'
Yesterday's Wing Ding raised just over HK$500,000 from donations, raffle ticket sales and auction bids.
The contest itself was close. The Island Squash Racquet Club team edged out the Hong Kong Football Club team for the win. Finishing third was the Hong Kong Cricket Club team.
The tournament started in 1998 to celebrate the memory of Yuen Kam-wing, a physically disabled man who helped run the Hong Kong Squash Centre on Cotton Tree Drive. Yuen died at the age of 33 from complications related to his illness.
Phil Head, a squash teacher at the football club, and Nick Rickett founded the tournament after attending Yuen's funeral. 'We vowed that day to hold a memorial tournament in his name. And here we are, 11 years on, it's still running,' said Head, yesterday's top point scorer.
'We'll all have a beer with him after the tournament. Here's to Wing and Operation Santa Claus.'
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