Hong Kong International School student takes being a team player to a whole new level

Hong Kong International School student takes being a team player to a whole new level

It's hard work for a student to play two different sports for five teams. But Jack Gallagher's passion for team sports keeps him going


Jack Gallagher (centre) is a star player in both rugby and football.
Photo: John Donker

It's hard enough being a full-time student in Hong Kong, and even harder balancing school work while playing on a sports team. The stress becomes more intense if you play two different sports. Now try to imagine playing those two sports for five teams.

Some might call it crazy, but Jack Gallagher calls it passion. The 15-year-old student from Hong Kong International School (HKIS) can juggle his schedule just as well as he can juggle football. "I am currently playing on five teams," he says, as he starts to list them off. "I am on the HKIS varsity soccer and rugby teams at school. I am playing under-19 rugby for Valley Fort and I am playing soccer for the Hong Kong Football Club Colts and under-18 teams."

Jack plays scrum-half in rugby and is a mid-fielder in football. While this might seem like a case of split-personality, Jack is used to shifting between worlds - both athletically and culturally. "I was born in London and lived in New York for one year before moving to Hong Kong," he explains. "My parents are American but my mum is half-Chinese and my grandfather is from Hong Kong."

This exposure to different cultures and international cities gave Jack a broad base of interest in sports. "I remember watching baseball and soccer from the age of two," he recalls. "At the time we were living in New York City, and I remember my dad taking me to the park to play catch for hours."

Once Jack moved to Hong Kong, his interest shifted to football. "I played with the Hong Kong Football Academy and trained under Ed Fordham," he says, referring to the academy's owner. "I was playing with mostly Japanese kids, but under Ed's leadership, the language difference wasn't an issue. It was all about playing a great game as a team."

Jack treasured that team spirit, and couldn't resist joining another team-based sport - rugby. "I started to play with my club, Valley Fort, which practised at Stanley Fort," he says. "I liked the physical side of the game and the fact that it required a lot of skill and mental strength."

As he got older, the competitions became more serious. But for Jack, it was still always about being on a team.

He first played rugby when he was eight years old. "My team flew to Singapore for the Under 10s tour. We ended up winning the tournament, but I also had a great time travelling with my teammates."

And while Jack is older now, his favourite thing about being an athlete is still being part of a team - all five of them. "I really enjoy the camaraderie of training, competing and celebrating together," Jack explains. "My Hong Kong Football Club team plays most Friday nights and after the game we celebrate by going out to dinner in Causeway Bay and eating hamburgers."

Jack says that when the team works together and plays their best, there's no better feeling. "There is nothing more satisfying than walking off the field after a good game," he says. "I love team sports."

Jack (right in blue) loves being part of a team. Or five.

Bench Notes

What song/movie title best describes you when you're playing your sport?
This is Our House - Bon Jovi

If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be and why?
Time. Because I play on many sport teams, I often feel overwhelmed and stressed about making sure I can attend everything.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
A whole new ball game


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