Finding their own way
In orienteering, participants use a map and navigate a particular route. The sport has helped Confucius Hall Secondary School students Yam San-leung, Christy Ng Hoi-ching and Benny Chen Jin-bin find their way in life.
Orienteering requires both physical and mental fitness.
You need to have speed and map-reading skills before you even plan your route. If you don't think before you set off, you will waste time finding the right way.
So Wing-man, a science teacher at the school in Causeway Bay, is passionate about the sport. Before she graduated from university, she was on the Hong Kong orienteering team and represented the city in international events.
She helped the school set up a team six years ago. Under her management, and coaching by Liang Chi-hang, an experienced orienteer from the Hong Kong team, the school has produced many new stars and potential athletes.
San-leung, who is in Form Six, is the team's brightest star. He came first in the recent Guangdong Province Orienteering Championships and has represented Hong Kong at the All China Orienteering Championships.
Having arrived from the mainland in 2006, he played computer games at home all day long.
'Orienteering pulled me out from the digital world,' says the Hong Kong junior team athlete. 'My friends asked me to join the sport three years ago. Since then, I've played fewer computer games. I also talk more with fellow students.'
He is going to fight for a place to represent Hong Kong at the Junior World Orienteering Championships.
San-leung's teammate Christy faced a different problem. 'It used to take me a long time to figure out my left from my right. Orienteering helped me to get familiar with directions and learn how to use a compass,' says the Form Three student.
But she still has to make sure she reads the map the right way up.
'If you get it upside down, '6' may become '9', and you'll go to the wrong checkpoint,' Christy says. Participants need to visit the checkpoints in the correct order, or they may be disqualified. 'The amazing thing is how I travel all around Hong Kong. I didn't know my district at all well until I took part in a race there,' she says.
Benny, the club's chairman, says the sport helps him stay fit.
'We do lots of walking and running, which is something I rarely do in my daily life. After taking up the sport three years ago, I think I'm healthier and have lost some weight,' says the Form Four student.
The boys help So prepare for orienteering races, including placing the checkpoints on hills. San-leung says it is a learning process.
'Finding the checkpoints is not easy. Placing them is even more difficult. When we place one, we have to match the symbols and description on the map so athletes can find it in the right position.'
The season started in September, and in the cool weather, most of the races take place in the hills. In summer, races usually take place at parks in town. Basically, you need only a compass and a map to take part in an orienteering race. In Hong Kong, you also need to carry a whistle for emergencies. But So says the athletes need more than that.
She says the experiences are of benefit to students and contribute to their success.
'Sometimes we need to walk for half an hour to the starting point, and that demands energy. I bought them sweets in advance when we did that for the first time,' she says. 'They learned [to do that for themselves], so I don't need to remind them any more.'
The sport is a lifelong learning process.
For these three students, it's helping them to become more fulfilled individuals.