Alvin Sallay

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am

Here's a theological question to start the day. Is it a coincidence the word D-E-V-I-L read backwards is 'Lived'? Should we live our lives to the utmost, or should we think of the hereafter and spend our time cloistered in a church, mosque, synagogue, temple or other places of worship praying for forgiveness? Should we live for the day, or should we save ourselves for the day of judgment?

Sometimes we tend to get too wrapped up in the future, instead of savouring the joy of the present. Instead of pausing for a moment to enjoy what is right in front of us, we are predisposed to gazing into crystal balls and complicating our lives.

In these past seven days, we have had two events that have lifted the profile of Hong Kong as a sporting hub - the Bledisloe Cup and the Hong Kong Sixes which ends today.

Both events bring top-class sportsmen to town. The Bledisloe Cup featured the world's two best teams, the All Blacks and the Wallabies. The Sixes, although not on a par with the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, is still well-known in cricketing circles and this weekend features some of the best players in the world.

These events deserve our support but sadly the Bledisloe Cup was played in front of only 26,000 fans, leaving large swathes of empty seats in the upper stands of the 40,000-capacity Hong Kong Stadium. That's a shame, because the match was one of the best seen in recent times. It had everything - drama, action and a fairy-tale finish for the Wallabies, who hadn't beaten the All Blacks in 10 previous outings.

When James O'Connor crashed over for the winning try to tie the score at 24-24 and then kicked the conversion, it ended 80 minutes of top-notch action from two sides playing for pride and national honour. This was sport at its best.

'The Bledisloe was a great day out and a superb match. Those who missed it must be kicking themselves,' said Jonathan McKinley, deputy secretary with the Home Affairs Bureau, the government department responsible for funding sports.

We don't know why so many missed a rare opportunity to watch top-class athletes in action. But if it was money, as some readers have suggested in letters to the editor complaining of steep ticket prices, then it is a shame.

Unless HK$880 meant the difference between having three square meals or doing without, it is money that would have been better spent on the Bledisloe Cup. Yes, these are tough financial times we live in, but if the reason for not turning up at So Kon Po last Saturday had nothing to do with paying your rent or sending your children to school, then you are poorer for having missed out on a fantastic game of rugby.

Today, another signature sporting event plays out at Kowloon Cricket Club. Although this version is not in the top echelons of the game, it is still an enjoyable tournament and has its moments of drama.

It is not just about hitting sixes as the name suggests. In fact, the best teams depend on their bowling to win the day. John Hung, former president of the Hong Kong Cricket Association and one of the men responsible for getting this tournament started in 1992, still remembers the over bowled by Pakistan great Wasim Akram. 'He took three wickets and gave away one run in his over. I have never seen anything like it,' says Hung, a man who cherishes life to the fullest these days.

Once the most powerful man in Hong Kong sporting circles - he was the chairman of the Hong Kong Sports Development Board - former Wheelock chairman Hung was sentenced to prison for taking a bribe to help a membership application to the Jockey Club.

He is out now, but was looking pale and had lost weight when I bumped into him a few days ago. Hung knows how fickle life is. One day you are on top of the world, the next day it comes crashing down.

So people, go out and live for the day. Life can change in a jiffy. If you have some spare cash, an extra HK$500, then make your way to Cox's Road in Jordan today and watch legends like India's Anil Kumble, the up-and-coming Ambati Rayudu and young Australian David Warner in action.

We need to support events like the Bledisloe Cup and the Sixes. The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union lost millions bringing the All Blacks and Wallabies to town. Luckily, it can afford to take one for the team as it is one of the richest sporting bodies in town. But still the money lost will impinge on future development.

Local cricket does not have a cash cow like rugby's Sevens. It is hampered by the fact there is no ground in Hong Kong that can cater to around 15,000 fans, which is the extent of their ambitions right now.

To draw the big names of world cricket, you have to pay them. Shane Warne played in Hong Kong three years ago for an appearance fee reported to be US$50,000 (HK$387,000). The only way the Sixes can afford someone like him is to have a sizeable facility to boost revenues from ticket sales - as rugby does with the Sevens. But all these arguments will be pointless if you, the fans, do not support the event.

So do you live for the day? Can you say at day's end, 'I have lived life'? As they say, the devil is in the detail.