‘We grew up on that field’ – Hong Kong players make passionate plea to save Tin Shui Wai rugby ground from developers
- Coach Peter Ng says he used to travel two hours to Kowloon for training
- Fong Kit-fung says the Tin Shui Wai ground changed his life via rugby
Peter Ng Chi-ho’s parents would complain about how late he would return home from rugby training. It was a four-hour round trip from Tin Shui Wai, in the New Territories, to King’s Park, in Kowloon.
So Ng was delighted when the Hong Kong Rugby Union took charge of the Tin Shui Wai Community Sports Ground several years ago.
The ground is close to his heart because of the role rugby continues to play in his life – first as a player with Pandas, and now as a coach for Kowloon and a full-time job with the HKRU.
Ng hopes a proposal to the government to rezone the ground so that it can be seized by developers who may want to build shopping malls, markets or car parks fails to see the light of day.
“I was 19 or 20 and it was quite difficult to get to training,” Ng said. “We trained every Tuesday and Thursday and played on Saturdays. I tried not to worry about the travelling and just focus on training.
“Then the Tin Shui Wai ground opened and it was much better, that’s why I’m very disappointed that this ground may be rezoned.
“This pitch is really important to me and others who have played rugby there and continue to play. Life skills, rugby skills, the grooming of a new generation all happened on that field.
“It shows that sport can change people’s lives. The Tin Shui Wai ground is special, especially when you see boys and girls training and playing there.
“There is no other ground in the district for people who want to play, not only rugby, but other sports. We have to travel a long way.”
An individual named Mo Kai-hong submitted an application to rezone the area to the Town Planning Board, which will decide its fate on December 21.
The HKRU has launched an online campaign urging supporters to write to the TPB to reject the proposal.
For Fong Kit-fung, who is part of the Union’s Hong Kong Sports Institute sevens squad, the Tin Shui Wai pitch also has special meaning. He said his teenage years were spent at home, school and the rugby ground.
“This place is very important and really means a lot to me,” said Fong, one of the rising stars of local rugby who helped the city win last year’s Asian Under-20s sevens title. “It is the place where I grew up, the place I used to stay for a long time when I do not want to go home directly after school.
“And also, here is where I started to play rugby and rugby changed me a lot,” added Fong, who also started his career with the Tin Shui Wai Pandas team.
“If there is no Tin Shui Wai rugby pitch, there will be no Tin Shui Wai Panda rugby team. And I would not have had the chance to play this sport.
“Many schools and other sports groups use this field, which means there are infinite possibilities for the youngsters who also want to use sport to change their lives and eventually play for Hong Kong.”
Fellow Institute player Mak Kwai-chung said the field has an important role to play in the development of rugby among New Territories residents.
“It is convenient for players who live in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun districts to play in Tin Shui Wai,” Mak said. “Losing the field would be a major blow to development programmes in that area.”