Pitch-perfect day draws crowd for charity soccer

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 December, 2011, 12:00am


Sunny skies and a new location drew the most supporters yet to the annual charity soccer tournament that benefits Operation Santa Claus.

It was a day of many firsts. In its 16thyear of supporting the charity, the five-a-side tournament moved the venue from Stanley Fort to the Stanley Ho playing fields at the University of Hong Kong campus in Pok Fu Lam.

The top-notch AstroTurf gave players the chance to let their ball-handling skills shine.

The better pitch might have been a factor in Team Manulife snapping the five-year winning streak of Team Hong Kong Football Club, with a 2-0 win. Cheering families swarmed onto the fields when the whistle blew. Twenty teams took part in the corporate division, and 16 teams competed at the junior level.

Jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, Operation Santa Claus has supported more than 100 charities since it was founded in 1988. This year, it will raise money for 16 Hong Kong charities.

Children were entertained by a bouncy castle and a surprise visit from Santa Claus doling out sweets.

At noon, a friendly match was played against the Football Club's Prudential Crusaders and the Down Syndrome Association team.

'We've seen some better playing because of the AstroTurf and the flatter ground,' said Charles Kelly of Team CBRE. 'There is better ball control and more consistent passes. I've seen more goals than usual.'

Team CBRE became the tournament's official organiser this year, taking over from Brian Crockford who ran it for a decade.

Ruby Murrays, the top fund-raiser last year, estimates that it will raise between HK$150,000 and HK$200,000. Team CBRE is setting its sights on HK$120,000.

'We like to work with Operation Santa Claus because we know where the money ends up,' said CBRE's Sam Harvey-Jones.

Their organisers are still calculating the total amount raised from the tournament.

But last year the event proved to be a significant contributor, generating more than HK$1 million for the charity drive.

Gammon Construction went home with the plate. Other corporate teams included Colliers, Daiwa, UBS, Clifford Chance, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HK Strollers, ING, Allen & Overy, Avery Dennison, Deutsche Bank, Linklaters, Swire, White & Case and Nomura.

How you can give

Donate online by credit card at osc.scmp.com

Donations can be made at ATMs or at any branch of HSBC: account number 502-676299-001 for SCMP CHARITIES LTD-OPERATION SANTA CLAUS

You can make a donation by cheque, payable to 'SCMP CHARITIES LTD-OPERATION SANTA CLAUS' and mail to: Operation Santa Claus, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, New Territories, Hong Kong

Donations of HK$100 or more are tax-deductible. If you would like a tax receipt, please send the completed donation form and original bank receipt with your name, address and phone number to the address above.

Contact us via e-mail at osc@scmp.com, telephone 2680 8159 or visit us online at osc.scmp.com