More than a decade of work with Breakthrough gives youngsters a start
Former policeman Robbie McRobbie has been the HKRFU's commercial manager for several years and Operation Breakthrough, the charity that was started by the Tuen Mun police district in 1996, is dear to his heart.
The programme has helped turn around the lives of many youth regarded as 'at risk'.
Every year, McRobbie is one of many who work tirelessly to bring positive change to children who have a rougher start in life than others.
During the 1990s, Tuen Mun, the new town in the New Territories developed to provide low-cost housing, was hampered by a lack or employment and adequate recreational facilities. Areas including Wong Tai Sin and Yuen Long were added later.
'Since the last Hong Kong Sevens, there has been several Operation Breakthrough rugby developments,' McRobbie said. 'Firstly, we started a project under the Social Welfare Department's 'Partnership Fund for the Disadvantaged', supported by Standard Chartered.'
Although the programme now includes girls' dancing, girls rugby also falls under its mandate. 'We have started a girl's rugby section, with under-16 and under-19 teams,' he said.
One Breakthrough recruit, Ng Chi-ho, 22, is now a community rugby officer with the HKRFU, while two others, Andy Leung, 17, and Tank Lam, 22, will represent Hong Kong teams next week.
'Rugby has given me the chance to make my sport my career,' Ng said. 'I never thought this would be possible but it is thanks to Breakthrough.'
Lam said: 'I wouldn't have stayed in school and now I'm studying bachelor of fitness at the Baptist University.'
Leung said: 'Breakthrough allows me to balance my sport with my studies and I'm studying at Delia school in Kwun Tong.'
Operation Breakthrough also involves educational scholarships and clubs for boxing, and is said to have some of the best facilities in Hong Kong.
People such as McRobbie keep fighting year-round to improve the lives of Hong's Kong's youth who often feel alienated from the mainstream.