City slickers swap suits for strips to score for Santa Claus appeal
Dozens of bankers, lawyers and consultants from rival companies swapped their office suits for football kit yesterday, and took their competitive spirit onto the pitch for a charity football tournament.
The sports fields at Stanley Fort, currently an operational military base of the People's Liberation Army, provided a stark contrast to the family-friendly event as white-gloved officers guided visitors through the heavily-guarded venue to six pitches where 20 teams battled it out for the five-a-side tournament title.
It was a blustery day, but that did little to hinder the energetic 9am kick-off as teams played for a spot in the quarter finals.
Corporate teams paid a HK$40,000 entry fee and also raised money at a quiz night last Thursday.
'Indications are that we've raised just a little above HK$1 million which was our target this year,' said tournament organiser Brian Crockford, who works for Microsoft. 'It is a special setting and it's great to be able to come down here to the fort.'
Crockford has organised the tournament for a decade and during that time has raised more than US$800,000 for Operation Santa Claus, the annual charity appeal organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK.
'But it's not just about the monetary value,' Crockford said. 'It's the number of causes that we've been able to help through Operation Santa Claus. We're very fortunate and privileged and it's almost a moral obligation to give something back.'
He now hands the reins to CB Richard Ellis, who he hopes will take the tournament 'to the next level'.
Crockford said the crowd was enthusiastic as ever and he was happy to see the fundraiser grow from a simple idea to an annual event.
'The first tournament raised HK$100,000. We had a truck serving beer and we called for pizzas to be delivered from Stanley,' he said.
Another long-time supporter of the event was Mac McGolpin, manager of the Hong Kong Strollers. 'It's a great competition, fun and fantastic,' he said. 'The PLA are welcoming and there's a lot of history here.'
ING captain Joos Louwerier said his team's 5-0 victory against Prudential before lunch was a contender for game of the tournament.
'It was a heated game that was rightfully won by ING. There were three red cards - two for Prudential, one for ING - and emotions were high,' he said.
Just after noon, players from the Hong Kong Football Club's Prudential Crusaders played a friendly match against the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association team, with supporters on the sidelines cheering both teams.
Children made a beeline for the jumping castle and a magician did her best to capture their attention before Santa Claus made a surprise visit.
As the mercury dropped in the afternoon, the Hong Kong Football Club and Bank of America Merrill Lynch teams headlined the finals showdown. But HKFC, champions for the past four years, once again claimed the title, with a 6-1 victory.
Gammon Construction won the plate with a win over White & Case, while Jardine Ruby Murrays secured the top fundraiser award with a tremendous effort of HK$150,000.
Other corporate teams included JP Morgan Chase, CB Richard Ellis, Allen & Overy, Colliers International, UBS, Linklaters, Clifford Chance, CLSA, Standard Chartered Bank, Daiwa and Eversheds.
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Donations can be made by ATM or at any HSBC branches: a/c number 502-676299-001 for SCMP CHARITIES LTD - OPERATION SANTA CLAUS
You can donate by cheque, payable to 'SCMP CHARITIES LTD - OPERATION SANTA CLAUS' and mailed to:
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22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, New Territories,
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