Thanks to a new sports charity, 14-year-old Form Three student Tsang Tsz-ho got the chance to take up a brand new sport, and play it with celebrities like Hacken Lee Hak-kan.
“Normally, I could never afford to play a sport like golf. But now I can play it all the time and I like it a lot,” Tsz-ho told Young Post during the UBS Hong Kong Open Charity Cup.
The PLK Ma Kam Ming College student was invited to take part in the tournament along with celebrities such as Lee as part of Golf Inspires, a movement organised by the InspiringHK Sports Foundation (IHKsports).
IHKsports offers young people who come from underprivileged families, such as Tsz-ho, the chance to such as golf.
“Our goal is to empower youth through sports. We offer sports training programmes free of charge for underprivileged young people, including ... students with special needs,” explained Judy Kong, chief executive of IHKsports.
She said the charity places a strong emphasis on increasing girls’ participation in sports.
“Girls’ sporting hours around the world are really low, but in Hong Kong it’s even lower,” Kong said. “I think it’s a culture thing – a lot of parents tell girls to be quiet, study hard and become an accountant in the future.
“We see a lot of potential in Hong Kong girls because they are very aggressive and very goal-[oriented], but not in sports. So we want to give them a chance to do well in sports like football, not just gender-stereotype sports like dancing.”
Students who meet the necessary criteria will be given a minimum of one year free training in sports such as golf, ice hockey, fencing, taekwondo and dancing.
Although Kong said IHKsports’ objective is not to produce elite athletes, sometimes talented players such as Tsz-ho emerge from the training.
“I have gained a lot of confidence through golf, and I want to keep playing and put all of my heart into this sport,” said Tsz-ho, who will receive an additional year of free training thanks to his skills. “We believe that elite sports is like a triangle, and Hong Kong needs a stronger base of community sports for elite athletes to rise to the top,” Kong explained. “We see there is a missing link in Hong Kong schools because of the sport culture – especially for kids from underprivileged families whose parents don’t want them to do anything but study.”
She added that while there is a sporting culture at Hong Kong’s universities, many young people will never get the chance to experience it.
“The acceptance rate for Hong Kong universities is about 18-20 per cent, which means only one out of five students will end up in university, so what about the other four?” Kong asked. “Many of these kids come from underprivileged families, and will never get to experience the benefits of sport their entire lives.
“Not everyone is going to be good at studying. For these people, sports can help shape their character, and teach them important lessons about teamwork and sportsmanship.”
Tsz-ho said he is grateful that IHKsports gave him the chance to play golf, which helps to reduce stress from schoolwork and exams.
“In Hong Kong, many people are unhealthy because of studying and long working hours, so I really want to continue doing sports to make sure I’m healthy,” he said. “I really think young people should participate in sports, because it helps us build new friendships, learn new things, and help reduce stress.”