Investing in the future

Investing in the future

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Hong Kong Jockey Club's chief executive, talks to Mabel Sieh about sponsoring the SCMP/HKJC Student of the Year Awards

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Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges (blue shirt, and left) and Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton (red shirt) meet the boys in the Youth Football Development Programme.
Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges (blue shirt, and left) and Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton (red shirt) meet the boys in the Youth Football Development Programme.
Hong Kong Jockey Club is the sole sponsor of this year's SCMP/HKJC Student of the Year Awards. Young Post talks to the club's chief executive officer, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, about its support of the event and its effort to develop the potential of young people.

Why does the Jockey Club want to support this year's Awards?

We welcome the revival of the awards, as they have a long and successful history dating back to 1974, and have attracted wide recognition from local schools and teachers over the years. We see it as a further statement of the club's commitment to nurturing Hong Kong's youth through education and continuous learning.

We are especially pleased that the awards recognise not only academic prowess, but also the students' all-round excellence in art, music, sports, languages and their contributions to the community. Encouraging students to widen their skills and experiences will definitely be very beneficial to their development.

How do you think the Awards can help young people?

To meet the demands of today's challenging globalised environment, it's critical that students develop all-round skills. That's where I think the Awards can play a valuable role. In Hong Kong, there's been a tendency for Hong Kong to put too much focus on academic learning and not enough on other experiences like sports and community service. The different awards will encourage our students to develop leadership qualities and gain a better understanding of the world around them.

What are some signature programmes that help to develop the potential of Hong Kong's young generation?

The HKJC Scholarship Scheme

Established in 1998, the scheme recognises not just academic excellence, but also the scholars' dedication to serving the community. By encouraging the recipients at a formative age to give back to society and providing them with the channels to do so, we nurture in them a commitment that will reward them the rest of their lives. So far, 343 students have been awarded scholarships, of whom 281 have already graduated.

The Jockey Club Youth Football Development Programme

An annual event the club has sponsored since 2010, it gives about 10,000 young people aged five to 19 a chance to develop their sporting talents and improve their interpersonal skills and learn teamwork. The most talented may have the opportunity to join the Jockey Club Elite Youth Football Camp, which offers 60-70 of Hong Kong's best young players training by visiting coaches from the Manchester United Soccer School, with the best two earning a further week's training at United's own Academy in Britain. We're also funding the construction of the Jockey Club Kitchee Centre for youth training in Sha Tin.

Do you have any advice for young people?

Sport is particularly valuable because it instils in young people the virtues of teamwork, discipline and the ability to deal with adversity - all important elements of the "can do" spirit that helped get Hong Kong where it is today, and can continue giving the city an edge over its competitors in the future.

Also, if Hong Kong is to maintain its distinctive role in the wake of mainland China's dramatic economic growth over the past 30 years, it's important, too, that students develop creative skills and learn to "think outside the box". I see design and innovation as areas where Hong Kong can be a leader in the years ahead.

Young people today have a huge world of opportunities ahead that previous generations could only dream about, but the competition is also much greater. I would urge each of you to pursue a wide range of interests that build all-round knowledge, and to stand out from the crowd by showing a can-do spirit and pursuing excellence in everything you do - which is exactly what we try to do at the Jockey Club.


You might also like:

- "Making it" takes time, hard work, and sometimes only from you but also from those who love you. Former award-winner Pauline Yeung gives SCMP Student of the Year hopefuls her top tips for success

- Hugh Kam is a former SCMP student linguist winner who speaks five languages. This year, he is judging the prize.

- Former SCMP star Tina Lam is now a successful artist. Treasuring her teachers and family is the secret to her glittering career.

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