Sport runs in La Salle family

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 April, 2012, 12:00am

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La Salle College is a sports powerhouse. Its athletes frequently finish top in inter-school competitions. But it's not just their great track record that amazes rivals. The 'army in red and white' also fascinates with its famed 'La Sallian spirit'.

And it has done so for 80 years. La Salle opened its doors on January 12, 1932.

Over its long history, the Catholic secondary school has enhanced its status as one of the city's finest institutions. Many of its former students have played important roles in Hong Kong's development.

Arnaldo de Oliveira Sales, an alumnus who went on to head the city's Sports Federation and Olympic Committee, defined the La Sallian spirit as 'achieving excellence in whatever you do'.

The school teaches its students to 'overcome difficulties and rise to new challenges, try their best to achieve their goals, commit [themselves] to civic projects and engage in activities for the betterment of the world,' Sales told Young Post.

Sales said his days at the school helped spark his interest in sports.

Ronnie Wong Man-chiu, another former student from La Salle, represented Hong Kong at the Munich Olympics in 1972. He is now an executive with Fina, the world governing body for swimming and water sports.

'La Salle has always been able to strike a balance between academic work and sports,' he said.

'The school's former students retain a strong bond to their alma mater.

'During my work in promoting sport, I've come across many former students who were active in sports at school. They now work in different industries and government departments. We often recall our days at La Salle.'

But the school is not sitting on its laurels. A new generation of elite athletes is being groomed.

One of them is Form Six student Fong Pak-lun, who plays for Sham Shui Po in the First Division football league.

The forward turned 19 on Saturday. He has been selected for the Hong Kong senior squad and is being groomed as a future star.

He played a key role helping his school retain the A grade football title last year. Other aces include two Form Five students: goalkeeper Yuen Ho-chun and midfielder Marco Wegener. 'We have many former players supporting us from the sidelines,' says Ho-chun. 'We don't want to let them down.'

Form Six student Andy Yee Hon-fai is another elite athlete who helped La Salle win championships at inter-school athletics and basketball competitions.

'Former students of the school have helped me a lot in my sports career,' he says. 'Last year I went to Nanjing to play in the China High School Basketball League for Hong Kong. Because of that I was set to miss the athletics championships in Shenzhen. But old La Salle boys helped me arrange plane tickets to Shenzhen on very short notice. They even picked me up at the airport. A strong old boys' network has been crucial in my success.'

He repaid the kindness by winning gold in the shot put at the event. In this year's inter-school athletics championships, Andy won two gold medals, in the discus and shot put. His younger brothers, Anson Yee Hon-ching (in Form Four) and Billy Yee Hon-chung (in Form Two), won gold respectively in the high jump and long jump. It was the first time in the school's history that three brothers had won gold at the same event.

The school's principal, Brother Steve Hogan, is an avid supporter of La Salle athletes. He spends most weekends cheering on his boys at sports competitions. 'The La Sallian spirit is demonstrated through the collaboration of teachers, old boys, parents and students. Students are competing not just for themselves but for our big family at La Salle,' he says.

The school will celebrate its 80th anniversary with a dinner at the Convention and Exhibition Centre on May 12.