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Hong Kong Rugby Union

Believe it or not, desk jobs help Hong Kong stars stay focused on Women’s Rugby World Cup tilt

Colleen Tjosvold, Amelie Seure and Royce Chan find balance in internships during intense build-up to Ireland

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 3:55pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 August, 2017, 8:33pm

What do you do when your hobby becomes your job? You find a new hobby, says Colleen Tjosvold, a key component of Hong Kong’s Women’s Rugby World Cup tilt which kicks off against Canada in Ireland on Wednesday.

Not that many people would call office work a hobby, but for Tjosvold and two of her World Cup teammates, it has been just that, as well an outlet and a source of balance.

Tjosvold, Amelie Seure and Royce Chan Leong-sze – along with Na Ka-man, who is not in Ireland – were the first batch of players to undertake internships at KPMG as part of the company’s sponsorship of women’s rugby in Hong Kong.

While not everyone in the squad for Ireland is lucky enough to be contracted and many juggle their jobs with training, the trio have been part of the full-time sevens programme since its inception in 2013.

“Everyone needs a hobby. For everyone on our team, rugby was our hobby to start off with. When we went full-time the management suggested we find hobbies, study or part-time work to round out our lifestyle. This was very good advice,” said 28-year-old Tjosvold, who had only a year of English teaching under her belt before becoming a full-time rugby player.

“Rugby has always been supportive of exploring different areas of life and they always tell us that we do need something to keep us developing as an individual.

“It [the internship] was a good opportunity for someone like me who has been doing rugby for the last four years to get exposure to a new industry.”

While it may seem like more work would have the opposite effect, the internships – which involved a day of work a week for 12 weeks – have allowed the players to stay focused on rugby amid the intense build-up for the World Cup.

“The internship complemented my rugby training in several ways. I am most energised when I have different things going on in my life, if I only have one thing to do it is more draining,” said Tjosvold, who worked in the markets department handling events.

“I learnt how everyone on a team works together to put an event together. It’s kind of like our rugby team, everyone knows and executes their own roles.”

At 38, Chan is playing in what could be her last tournament for Hong Kong and says the work she did in corporate social responsibility helped to broaden her horizons.

“The internship came along at the right time as since we have been training full-time for quite a while, I wanted to try something different on my day off and see what else is happening in the world,” she said. “It helped my time management, I like occupying my time and packing my schedule.”

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Of course, the internships also gave the players valuable experience for when their rugby careers come to an end.

For 33-year-old Seure – who has previously worked in business development in the area of supply chain and manufacturing – her work with KPMG’s banking business development team was a welcome change up.

“It’s a different environment, so it does give you a bit of a break from rugby and you come back a bit more refreshed, it’s a good balance,” she said.

“I’m getting quite old and at some stage I will have to think about my reconversion [back into the work force].

“I did an MBA part-time, so I specifically asked for that area because I wanted to test the finance sector because of the background I have with my MBA.”

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KPMG is looking forward to continuing the programme, with partner Grant Jamieson saying “the values of rugby resonate with our firm and our people”.

“We are delighted to have offered a bespoke internship programme to members of the women’s rugby community,” he said. “We hope the programme has been a valuable experience [and] we look forward to continue to work with women’s rugby in Hong Kong.”