When Lo Kam-hung started working at Cumberland Presbyterian Church Yao Dao Secondary School in Yuen Long, he wanted to teach more than just maths and physics: he wanted to start a school skipping team.
Lo has been determined to bring this non-mainstream sport to his students. But despite his passion to introduce the sport, the response from them was underwhelming at first.
"It was not easy for me as a mathematics and physics teacher to recruit athletes. Many students had already been recruited by the PE teachers to play on the school's mainstream sports teams," he says. "When I first started, only two students came to skipping practice. It was quite disappointing."
But Lo did not give up, and soon more students joined. "The students discovered that skipping is a lot of fun, and soon we had a 12-man squad," he says.
Team captain Ng Wai-lok, Form Six, was one of the team's first members. "Skipping is a great sport," he says. "You can practise on your own or skip with the team. There are countless tricks to do - you can even create your own - whereas with traditional ball games sports, there is less room to get creative."
In skipping competitions, performances are judged on the creativity, difficulty and delivery of the tricks. "It's like a dance performance. Skippers choreograph their own routines within a time limit and present it to the judges," Lo says.
He's been very impressed with the passion students have for the sports. "The skipping coach comes every Friday to train them once a week," he says. "On top of that, students set up their own practice every Wednesday after school. Several team members train on their own every day. They are self-motivated."
Wai-lok is so motivated that he took up gymnastics so he could become more agile and really shine. "I want to do everything I can to get better. With gymnastics training, I can do somersaults and backflips, which can help me perform various skipping tricks," he says.
Another team member, Tang Tsz-chun, Form Four, says it's the teamwork that motivates him. "I've met many good friends on the skipping team, and we train hard together and win together," he says.
Although skipping is not a mainstream sport in Hong Kong, the city is home to some of the world's top skippers. Last year, when the city hosted the World Rope Skipping Championships, a biannual tournament, the Hong Kong team was crowned the champion. "Most of the team members are students," says Lo. "I hope the government will consider adding skipping to the list of elite sports."
Head to "Skipping to Happiness" on Sunday, July 14, at Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to see some amazing performances, as students from 55 primary and secondary schools will be showing off their best tricks.