People with special needs do not always have to be on the receiving end of charity - they can also give by working hard to raise funds, the head coach of the Hong Kong Football Club Crusaders said.
As they ran out onto the pitch for the annual Operation Santa Claus soccer tournament, Nigel Merritt said his team of junior players, all with a degree of mental or physical disability, were contributing to society in their own way.
"They realise they are playing football to raise funds for the disadvantaged and underprivileged. They are showing their skills for a good purpose - to help people," Merritt said.
And all the training has its benefits for the players themselves. "The exercises enhance their motor skills and fitness, and it greatly enhances their self-esteem and social skills to play in front of others," Merritt said.
The 18th five-a-side soccer tournament, which took place at the Chinese International School, North Point, last Sunday, saw more than 300 participants from 16 of Hong Kong's top corporations raise nearly HK$1 million for the Operation Santa Claus charity appeal. Each participating team had to raise a minimum of HK$40,000.
It was the largest tournament of the year for junior league teams, and Santa was on the sidelines giving his support, while a face painter provided some extra fun for children.
In the adult tournament, Hilton Chuk Hiu-tung, 28, was captaining a team from the Goodman property company. "It's our first year in the tournament," he said. "It is a famous event in the real estate industry; it's an honour to take part and play football for a good cause."
Hot dogs and chips were also on sale to raise money for the Christmas appeal.
Eight-year-old footballer Adam Kamevsky, from Carmel Elementary School in Mid-Levels, said: "We are having so much fun here, playing football with our friends and with a special meaning."
The tournament has been an Operation Santa fixture since the inception of the charity drive, organised by the Post and RTHK.
- Donate online by credit card at osc.scmp.com
- Donate at an ATM or at any HSBC branch (account no: 502-676299-001 for SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus)
- You can donate with a cheque payable to "SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus" and mail it to: Operation Santa Claus, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, New Territories
- Donations of HK$100 or more are tax-deductible. If you would like a tax receipt, please send the completed donation form and original bank receipt, with your name, address and phone number, to the above address. Please call 2680 8159 or e-mail email@example.com with any inquiries, or visit us online at osc.scmp.com