Sevens seen: help at hand for youngsters at the stadium, and socially conscious students make a costume statement
Hong Kong Stadium shows again how it’s a prime venue for a reunion for returning Hongkongers
“Look out for your squad”, “Know when to chill” and “Water is your H2Bro” were put to the test over the tournament, and for the 30 KELY Support Group volunteers sending the messages to people aged 18-24 it’s a job far from finished.
KELY offered free water, support and medical assistance to people in this age group who partied too hard.
“We are all about harm reduction and prevention being better than cure,” said Cindy Ng, KELY’s assistant programme manager.
A few hours spent with staff and volunteers showed many of Hong Kong Sevens fans in this age group just wanted to come in and flop on the comfortable yellow bean bags and ask questions, as did many parents.
“KELY has taught us to look after our mates. We come back here every year just to enjoy a chill out,” said one teen.
“They never judge us and they look after us if we need it. My friend needed help last year and now we tell everyone to come here if they need someone who knows what to do,” chimed in one who admitted to being a bit tipsy.
“The sevens is so full-on, sometimes you just need help to chill and know when to slow down and drink water.”
With Hong Kong still waiting for a bill to be enacted on banning all underage drinking, there was a long way to go in creating awareness and education, said KELY executive director Sky Siu.
“Despite KELY’s work at the stadium for seven years, schools need to take a more active role in the evils of underage drinking,” she said.
“There still isn’t proper education in Hong Kong schools about drug and alcohol use and addiction. There is little to nothing in the curricula and no consistent content.
“We are totally funded by donations and do a lot of work with schools, but there is room for more. Our recent survey of more than 1,000 teenagers showed youths themselves wanted more education in schools.
“From the Sevens each year, it’s patently obvious they are seeking it,” added Siu.
Hong Kong has long had a loophole in liquor laws, and is still waiting to enact a law prohibiting convenience stores, supermarkets and other retailers from selling or supplying alcohol to people under 18.
Hong Kong Sevens, an annual reunion
For students from all over the world who are born or bred in Hong Kong, the Sevens is a reunion on steroids.
Have wheel-on trolley bag, will travel. This is then flung open to become a “floor-drobe” in the homes of parents who are pleased to see their progeny, even in snatches, accepting that hanging out with mates at the stadium is priority number one.
Laptops in far flung corners of the globe practically burn rubber for months beforehand with the costume combinations discussed and debated, leaving Brexit looking half considered.
Some outfits make a statement on the media, the Oscars, current events and politics.
One outfit combined all of these themes. “We’d already decided on the Kill Bill costume we are wearing today, before Uma [Thurman] joined the ‘Me Too’ movement, making her statement on [Harvey] Weinstein and [Quentin] Tarantino,” said Bethany Hung, who is studying at the University of Edinburgh.
Charlie Pepper, who is at Cambridge, added: “The costumes seemed even more fitting after her article about how Tarantino had treated her in the making of the film. Kill Bill is such an iconic revenge story, and women like Uma are finally getting theirs.”
Chimed in Lili Hulac, a German-American studying at the university of Melbourne: “We decided to dress up on Sunday too, making another statement on a recent controversy. Originally, we were planning to dress up as Playboy Bunnies but then we thought: ‘Why can’t we just all just dress up as Hugh Hefner?”’
The group hit upon this idea after the furore around his death at 91 last September.
Pepper said: “There’s a lot of debate as to whether he empowered or degraded women. We like to think he empowered women, which is why we are honouring his legacy by dressing up as him. The outfit features shiny smoking robes.”
When Hefner died, people said he could be in no better place. For the costume cohort, there is no better place than the South Stand, no matter what they’re wearing.