Highest hopes for the Sevens
If you saw Hong Kong Stadium's busy South Stand during last weekend's Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, you will understand how the game can bring people together. Most of our readers are not old enough to enter the stand yet, but they can still have a good time.
On Saturday, Young Post talked to four young rugby fans eating fluffy marshmallows away from the crowd. While many were dressed up and enjoying the party atmosphere, the group of 11-year-olds - Oliver Tan, Ethan Lam, Ben Gjemes and Alex Modesti - chose to stay at the top of the West Stand to get a bird's-eye view of the pitch and focus on the games.
Ethan, a Year Seven student at Sha Tin College, has watched the Sevens for the past five years. 'My family first brought me to this important event when I was a kid, and I understood the game as soon as I arrived. My favourite team is England,' says the outside centre player.
Starting last year, Ethan's new friend, Oliver, has joined him to scream and shout for England. Oliver, who plays scrum-half, came to Hong Kong last year. 'I played rugby for several years in England before I came,' says the student from Kellett School. 'I think the atmosphere of last year's Sevens was better than this year's, but I still enjoy the matches.' Oliver and Ethan play in the under-12 squad of DeA Tigers RFC.
'If we stay at the top of the spectator stand, we can be more focused on the matches and learn from the top players,' he says.
Ben is Oliver's friend from Canada and is spending his two-week spring break in Hong Kong. 'Oliver visited me in Vancouver before, as our dads were mates at high school,' he says. 'I knew he [Oliver] loved rugby and this time he invited me to come and watch the tournament, even though I knew nothing about rugby before.'
Ben also fell in love with rugby after watching it on Saturday, even donning a Hong Kong team jersey. but admitted that he may not be able to continue the sport in his hometown. 'I play basketball, American football and baseball, and swim. But I've never played rugby as it's not so popular in my city,' says the Canadian. This was both his first time visiting Hong Kong and watching a rugby game live. He had only seen it on TV before, and he needed his full concentration at the Sevens to understand what was going on.
But he became an instant fan. 'I will make good use of the time to play rugby with Oliver during my stay,' he says.
Ethan's schoolmate Alex says watching rugby is good, but he had an extra reason to be excited. 'This year I have the chance to join the mini rugby tournament on the last day [early Sunday morning, before the start of the main matches],' he says. 'The huge crowd at the stadium makes me nervous, but I guess it should be fun.' He took up the number eight position at his club, Flying Kukris, last November.
Let's remember the names of these four young sports lovers. One day we may ask them to sign our souvenir programmes at the Hong Kong Sevens.