While the government can throw hundreds of millions of dollars at an already cash-rich supermarket chain to ensure employment during the pandemic, what has it done for Hong Kong’s financially battered sports coaches? A measly, one-off HK$7,500 grant is all our coaches have received since the coronavirus outbreak this year, with no sign of more relief forthcoming. This is another blatant example of how the government treats sport on its list of priorities, despite it playing an important role in Hong Kong, bringing health and joy to the community while raising the reputation of Hong Kong as Asia’s international city. With the government due to roll out its third round of relief measures when the Legislative Council meets to discuss the matter later this month, we can only hope our coaches get their fair share. They have been working tirelessly, especially at grass roots levels to help produce our stars of the future, but these dedicated coaches have lost their means to make a living thanks to the government shutting down public sports facilities. Six months ago the government overlooked the sports sector when it introduced its first massive HK$30 billion relief package when other hard-hit industries, such as retail, food and drink, transport, arts and culture and tourism, were suffering. Sport wasn’t even mentioned, which proves how much the government really cared. Cut prices if you want government cash, Hong Kong leader tells supermarkets A survey conducted by the Hong Kong Sports Alliance – a concern group – concluded that coaches, especially those teaching at grass roots level, suffered the most financially under the pandemic. Of the 400 clubs and sports organisations who responded to the survey, it was discovered that 67 per cent of coaches lost 100 per cent of their income due to the closure of facilities and the suspension of school classes where most of them earned their living. About 60 per cent of coaches were forced to work part-time jobs to make ends meet. Another 20 per cent had to take up other full-time jobs to survive, while almost half of the respondents had faced some kind of financial difficulty. Another 28 per cent said they would face the same difficulties at some point. The Alliance then urged the government to provide a one-off grant of HK$10,000 to each affected coach. The median salary of these coaches was HK$20,000 per month, according to the survey, and therefore it would have been reasonable to ask for half of that amount as a quick remedy to their financial woes. The government responded by offering each registered coach, under their respective National Sports Association, a one-off HK$7,500 subsidy when it introduced the second round of its Anti-epidemic Fund in April. That was it. ‘Give virus-hit coaches HK$10,000 subsidy’, Sports Alliance tells government Despite the nominal amount, 10,500 coaches applied for funding, according to figures provided by the government in June. This included Hong Kong’s leading long distance runner, Chan Ka-ho, who also runs his own running school. Chan said the amount did little to help and he had to use his savings to help his family make it through the difficult times. While these 10,500 coaches should receive another round of financial support – at least HK$10,000 as first requested – the government should go further and offer them unemployment subsidies. Eight months have passed since the virus first broke out in Hong Kong. Most of these coaches have already lost their jobs. A fixed period of financial support for six months would provide a lifeline. Hopefully, the situation will gradually improve. Sports coaches to receive a one-off subsidy of HK$7,500 Senior government officials have never missed the opportunity of basking in the limelight when our athletes have excelled on the international stage. Chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has been seen on many occasions when cycling star Sarah Lee Wai-sze does Hong Kong proud. The sports community has been a keen supporter of Lam. It is believed all 15 Election Committee members of the sports section, including some retired stars such as Amy Chan Lim-chee, Wong Kam-po and Cheng Ka-ho, voted for Lam in the 2017 chief executive election. These retired sports stars are able to earn a living during the pandemic. But for those who work at the bottom of the pyramid to help produce our stars of tomorrow, now is the time for the government to acknowledge their contribution and support their very existence.