Hong Kong protests: Student athletes form human chain in response to Schools Sports Federation's cancellation of interschool events

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The teenagers gathered in Ho Man Tin to call on the HKSSF to let their ball sport matches go ahead

Joanne Ma |
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The human chain stretched along Carmel Village Street in Ho Man Tin.

About 200 students formed a human chain near the office of the Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation in Ho Man Tin on Monday, in protest against its postponement of some of the annual inter-school sports events.

Students, most of them masked, first gathered at about 4.30 pm outside Ho Man Tin MTR station Exit A2. The chain then extended along Fat Kwong Street. 

The protest came after HKSSF’s announcement on October 16 that all ball games scheduled at or after 4pm on weekdays from October 19 to November 1 would be cancelled; and that all ball games scheduled on weekends (October 19, 20, 26 and 27) would be cancelled as well.

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The reasons given were uncertainty and safety concerns. 

HKSSF only clarified this morning that the federation is trying their best to rent competition venues from Leisure and Cultural Services Department, hire judges, and arrange for the make-up matches.

Jason Wong was one of the students who volunteered to distribute hand-written paper signs to other participants so they could cover their school badges on their uniforms, out of fear their schools would punish them afterwards.

Students covered their school logos to avoid their schools being recognised.
Photo: Grace Wheaton

The signs featured slogans in Chinese and English, including “Coaches! I want to compete at the inter-school [events]!” and “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times”.

The 16-year-old student, who attends a secondary school in the Kowloon City district, told Young Post: “When the students stick the signs on their chests, they’re also trying to express their demands from their hearts.”

He added that the annual inter-school meet was far more than just a competition. “It’s an event that allows students to bond with each other and that boosts our team spirits. It also lets other people discover potential futures in the sports industry.”

As a member of his schools volleyball team, Jason was angry that the federation keeps postponing the competition for “safety concerns”.

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“We’ve all been putting in so much effort and hard work to prepare for the competition over the past year. And now, we don’t even know if we get to play the game,” he said. 

Regarding the ongoing protests, although he wasn’t sure if the human chain activities would have an effect, Jason said, “If we don’t do anything, there’ll be no chance [for victory at all]. It’s just like a competition, if you’re not even in the court you’ll never know if you win or lose ... But right now for inter-school competitions, they don’t even let us on the court.”

At about 5.20 pm, the human chain slowly moved towards the federation’s office on Carmel Village Street, one student waving the American flag as the group progressed along the road.

The crowd of students headed towards the federation's offices around 5.20pm.
Photo: Joanne Ma/SCMP

 

The students chanted, “Boycott the Inter-School’s white terror”, “There’s nothing wrong with doing sports, give back my youth!”, and “It’s my right to play at the inter-school”, among many other protest slogans. 

Some also plastered protest posters and stuck stickers that read “Resist chiNazi, liberate Hong Kong” on the walls outside the federation’s office building.

“I’m here today just because I want to play the match. As long as the game won’t be disrupted, I see nothing wrong in chanting political statements,” said Leo Wong, a 15-year-old, who wore a gas mask to the activity. 

A member of the schools basketball team, Leo was annoyed that the federation used what he thought as an excuse to postpone the match. 

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“They just want to silence us, so that we can’t express our political stances during the competition, instead of having concerns over our safety,” he added. 

A volleyball player from Delia Memorial School (Hip Wo), Melody Lai, 16, told Young Post, “We want to tell the HKSSF that we don’t want them to cancel our matches. We’ve been looking forward to our competition and we’ve been training so hard for it.” The 16-year-old was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask from the movie V for Vendetta.

“If they postpone it to a point where the Form Six students can’t take part anymore, it will be very sad because this is supposed to be their final year to shine at inter-school competitions,” she added. 

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