Cycling queen Sarah Lee backs Hong Kong rugby’s bid to save Tin Shui Wai community field from developers
- The 2012 London bronze medallist urges Hongkongers to support the rugby union
- More than 1,800 letters expressing opposition have been submitted
Cycling queen Sarah Lee Wai-sze has thrown her support behind the Hong Kong Rugby Union’s bid to save the Tin Shui Wai Community Sports Ground.
Lee, the 2012 London Olympic bronze medallist in the keirin track cycling event, posted a message on Facebook calling on the authorities to reject an application to rezone the area. The HKRU, meanwhile, says it has submitted more than 1,800 letters to the government, while an unknown number of people have made online submissions to save the field.
“Each sporting arena has been a cradle [of development] for their champions, and rugby is no exception,” wrote Lee, who won two gold medals at the Jakarta Asian Games, as well as a World Cup gold medal in Paris last month. “Are we looking at one sports field after another being rebuilt for other purposes?
“If you have been a supporter of Hong Kong rugby, or have been to the annual Hong Kong Sevens to join in the fun, I hope that you will participate in this campaign [to save the pitch].”
Mo Kai-hong, who claims to be a community organiser of the Tin Shui Wai New Force, has made an application via the Hong Kong Town Planning Board to “rezone” the government-owned site at Tin Shui Wai, which features a 10,486-square metre area used for rugby and other sports.
The HKRU said it had spent more than HK$40 million in developing the facility but that could all go up in smoke if the government decides, on December 21, to accept Mo’s application.
In his application, Mo “seeks Town Planning Board agreement to rezone the application site from ‘Open Space’ and ‘Road’ to ‘Comprehensive Development Area’ for community complex, market, cooked food market and car park uses”.
This means that, if successful, the government could at any time seize the land and sell it off to developers.
The HKRU started a campaign urging the public to send in comments opposing the application by the November 2 deadline.
“The HKRU has submitted our formal submission to the Town Planning Board, highlighting the positive contribution we believe sport makes to the Tin Shui Wai community,” said chief executive Robbie McRobbie.
“In addition to the more than 1,800 letters that have been collected from members of the rugby community and submitted, we are also aware of many other individuals and organisations who have made submissions online.
“HKRU would like to thank everyone for their support, especially the other National Sports Associations who have written in, and of course the Tin Shui Wai Eagles and Pandas Rugby Clubs, who have been passionate in fighting for their pitch.”
The Tin Shui Wai ground is the home of the Pandas rugby team and the development initiatives at the site is responsible for the grooming of three players who have become part of the Hong Kong Sports Institute’s rugby sevens programme – Fong Kit-fung, Chong Shun-hong and Mak Kwai-chung.
In the past, rugby enthusiasts living in the New Territories were forced to travel two hours to King’s Park in Kowloon for training and matches. The opening of the Tin Shui Wai ground made it easier for them to pursue their rugby ambitions.
Tin Shui Wai boasts a number of teams who play in the Hong Kong league at various levels, including under-16 boys, under-19 boys and under-19 girls. In addition, more than 100 children aged between four and 12 are part of Tin Shui Wai’s thriving mini-rugby scene.