Former Fiji coach Ben Ryan backs partnership between HKRU and Education University of Hong Kong
Funding from the union will help to make the sport an integral part of training for physical education teachers and foster an even stronger culture
Former Fiji coach Ben Ryan has thrown his support behind a recently announced partnership between the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) and The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK).
Speaking on a visit to Hong Kong, Ryan recounted experiences from his sporting career of working both with and without facilities, and stressed the difference that the provision of good facilities makes to successful sports development.
He commended the partnership – which is in place to support rugby education in primary and secondary schools – and hopes it will underpin an even stronger rugby culture in Hong Kong going forward.
HKRU chairman Pieter Schats made the formal presentation to Pang Yiu-kai, chairman of both the EdUHK Council and the EdUHK Foundation, and EdUHK president Stephen YL Cheung, in the presence of Ryan, who coached the Fiji sevens side to the first-ever Olympic gold at the Rio Games.
Initially for eight years, funding from HKRU will allow the university’s Department of Health and Physical Education (HPE) to make rugby an integral part of its teacher training, at both primary and secondary levels, and to introduce a rugby coaching certificate for all its undergraduates.
A teaching resource pack for primary school physical education teachers will be created and sponsorship funds will also be devoted to facilities including the university’s mobile research laboratory.
The sponsorship builds on a relationship between the two organisations that has grown steadily since 2009.
HKRU has provided 20 “Outstanding Athlete” scholarship awards for HPE students and enabled hundreds of students to participate in rugby training with local rugby club Flying Kukris, while EdUHK provides facilities support.
HKRU will continue to work closely with EdUHK to monitor, review and help improve rugby education programming under this newly expanded partnership.
Schats expressed his confidence in the rugby education development work of the university’s HPE.
“We believe that all youngsters in our society should be given an opportunity to participate in sport, not just for the obvious health benefits but equally because of the core values such as respect, excellence and friendship that are continually reinforced through sport,” he said.
Addressing the new relationship with EdUHK, Schats said: “The key elements of our cooperation are enhancing and pursuing excellence in teacher education in the sport of rugby, promoting student participation in sport through incentive awards, supporting facility improvement projects, and developing academic and research collaboration between our organisations.”
Pang expressed his appreciation for the HKRU’s support, saying he was impressed by the union’s work promoting rugby in the community, and helping to provide a career path for athletes that would encourage talented young sportspeople to pursue their involvement to the highest level.
“EdUHK is delighted to be part of the union’s journey to increase the number of schools where rugby is taught from the present level of around 140 to its interim target of 250,” he said.