Rugby fever takes hold in Hong Kong
As rugby fans around the globe gear up for the start of the World Cup in New Zealand next week, 80 young Hongkongers were getting their first taste of the game. And judging from the passion for the game on display, maybe there is a star of the future in their ranks.
The six- to 13-year-olds were taking part in a summer programme organised by the Hong Kong Society for Protection of Children along with the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRFU) and banking giant HSBC.
Young Post was invited to the last session of the six-week course at King's Park Sports Ground in Ho Man Tin.
It was clear to see the impression the game had made on the children, many of whom had never touched a rugby ball before but were now happily running around showing off their skills.
Six-year-old Ken Cheng Ying-kin said: 'Six lessons are not enough for me. I want to have regular rugby lessons in the future.'
Annie Man Cho-kiu, seven, added: 'I like the games with ball-passing and grabbing. I will definitely sign up for the course again next time.'
Antje Cosgrove, a former member of the Hong Kong national women's rugby team, was one of the coaches helping out.
'Most kids here didn't know anything about rugby before and were just coming for some fun so we had more games to get them moving,' she said.
'I hope they will love the sport, but, no matter whether they want to continue playing in the future or not, it is important for us to introduce the sport to them - it's the earlier the better for kids to start learning rugby.'
Although Cosgrove cannot speak Cantonese, she was still able to communicate with the children, with a little help from the other coaches. It was a case of actions speaking louder than words.
Coaches were recruited from the HKRFU as well as HSBC staff's Wayfoong Rugby Club. Will Yeung Sin-bon, a senior manager at HSBC, is one of the club members. The 32-year-old said: 'I have taken a day off work to come here today. It is a nice experience to share my hobby with the kids.'
HKRFU's Gary Chow Chi-ching was in charge of the programme. He said it was about getting children keen to join in all sports, not just rugby.
He added: 'Some of the kids put winning as the top priority when playing games. Through the programme, we want to teach them team spirit and discipline.
'We want them to know having fun is the most important thing - but winning is still one of the many other things they can hope to get from playing.'
And Ken and Annie will be among those delighted to know that Chow fully expected more of these rugby programmes to be held in the future.