Rugby for handicapped students
The focus of many sports-loving Hongkongers will be firmly on rugby - and the party atmosphere - at the annual Hong Kong Sevens this week. Thousands of tourists also visit the city for the three-day, seven-a-side competition involving 24 of the world's top rugby union-playing teams, which kicks off at 4pm on Friday and ends with the final at 7pm on Sunday.
Last Wednesday, a smaller sevens rugby competition, the Chun Tok Sevens, took place at King's Park Sports Ground in Ho Man Tin, Kowloon. This time the players were hearing-impaired Hong Kong students, and their teachers and guests.
This was the second time the tag-rugby event was organised by students at Chun Tok School, in Diamond Hill, thanks to sponsorship from Standard Chartered Bank and the support of Hong Kong Rugby Football Union. The competition is run as part of the 'Learning English Through Sports' scheme and is also a Workplace Communication Project.
Eleven matches were played between boys' and girls' teams, Chun Tok School and Lutheran School for the Deaf - plus a Star Students side playing an All Stars team of coaches, teachers and former internationals. Dragons won the boys' team title, with Lions securing the girls' team title and overall title, for the most points scored in boys' and girls' games.
Chun Tok beat Lutheran School 6-3, taking revenge after losing to their rivals in last year's match, while the All Stars and Star Students teams drew 9-9.
Ken Chung Ho-ting, a Form Six student at Chun Tok, played for Lions and also in the win against Lutheran School. He also competed in the All Stars match - and helped as a photographer when not competing during the day.
'I like taking pictures and helped my teacher during the tournament,' Ken said. 'Last year I played for the winning Dragons team, but this year I was happy to play for Lions, this year's overall champions.'
His schoolmate, Julian Chan Kwun-sing, a Form Five student who played for Dragons and in the All Star game, said: 'Learning English through rugby is not easy, but I'm not afraid to try my best. I also scored three points in the All Stars match, so I'm delighted.'
Tsang Tze-kin, a Form Three student at Lutheran School, said: 'Chun Tok deserved to beat us in this year's match; they were better. But it's still great just to take part.' All three students will be in the crowd at the Hong Kong Sevens.
Robbie McRobbie, the union's head of rugby operations, said they had worked with Chun Tok on its rugby learning programme for the past four years. 'Chun Tok was one of 40 schools to sign up, but it's the only school to extend the programme so long. Last year, we started this tournament as part of the learning programme,' McRobbie said.
Local schools will start a new round of the rugby programme next month.
The Hong Kong Sevens teams will include New Zealand, the reigning world champions and Hong Kong Sevens champions, England, last year's runners-up, Australia, South Africa, Wales, Scotland and France.
Hong Kong, China and Japan are also fielding teams, while the event also features an international women's competition.