Rugby plays important role in Hong Kong, especially for children

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 April, 2017, 4:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 April, 2017, 10:30pm

Peter Kammerer’s column (“What does the Hong Kong Sevens have to do with Hongkongers?” April 11) represents an odd perspective on an event which has evolved into a celebration of sporting endeavour where Hong Kong hosts 28 national teams competing at the highest level.

The tournament is arguably the city’s highest profile international sporting event and an opportunity for “Asia’s world city” to shine on the global stage.

Rather than snipe at the relevance of this event, how about celebrating the social and economic benefits of the Sevens while replicating its success by hosting other world-class events for all Hongkongers to enjoy?

While rugby may not be a mainstream Hong Kong sport, Kammerer’s assumption that the event is disconnected from the general population ignores the role that rugby plays in society.

For example, the Hong Kong Mini Rugby Football Union, established in the 1980s, includes 20 active clubs with approximately 5,000 local and expatriate boys and girls under the age of 12. Through rugby, children can develop teamwork, leadership and sportsmanship, and benefit from cross-cultural engagement.

Another good example of rugby’s role in the community is the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s successful partnership with the Po Leung Kuk, Hong Kong’s largest educational charity, for the Tackling Life and Tackling English projects. Launched in 2012, I understand that this notable collaboration has introduced rugby to over 3,700 youngsters in residential care and language training centres, as well as 15 primary schools.

Kammerer tells us that the Sevens crowd is only there for “the blast of a party”. I prefer to believe that the vast majority are there to participate in a celebration of sport with all of its positive associations. And isn’t this everything to do with being a Hongkonger?

Tim Blackburn, Quarry Bay