The Hong Kong Rugby Union Community Foundation has teamed up with Laureus, a global sports-based charity that works to improve the lives of young people, to stage several community activities during the week of the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.
It is the first of an expanded engagement drive that will see the two sports-based charitable bodies work closer together in coming years.
The engagements are being run under the umbrella theme of ‘Tackling Barriers through Sport’ and have drawn the support of the Hong Kong SAR Government.
Laureus encompasses the Laureus Sport for Good program, the Laureus World Sports Academy and Ambassadors Program and the Laureus World Sports Awards. Since its inception, Laureus Sports for Good has raised over €100 million for more than 150 projects in over 40 countries worldwide.
The HKRU’s history of partnering with Laureus dates back to 2003, when the HKRU-supported Hong Kong Police charity, Operation Breakthrough, was included as one of the Laureus Sports for Good projects worldwide.
The expanded association with Laureus around the 2017 Hong Kong Sevens is set to continue throughout the year as Laureus boosts its presence in Asia with a commitment to expand its work in the region.
Over the course of 2017, Laureus will be supporting 18 organizations in 12 Asian countries, sourcing new potential program partners for the future and engaging with local partners, including HKRU, to help build a strong strategy for the region in order to impact more young people through sport.
Several globally respected Laureus Academy members are lending their support to the array of community activities during the event week, including ex-New Zealand All Black Sean Fitzpatrick, who was named Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy in 2016.
Former Springbok centre Jean de Villiers and Chinese Olympic gold medallist Li Xiaoping are also visiting Hong Kong as part of the Laureus engagement during Sevens week.
“The Hong Kong Sevens is widely regarded as the finest tournament of its kind in the world and one of the flagship sporting events in Asia. Over the years, Laureus has partnered frequently with the HKRU around our jointly supported Operation Breakthrough program,” said Sean Fitzpatrick, Chairman of Laureus World Sports Academy.
“We are delighted to be able to team up once again to help harness the international platform of the Sevens to help youth Tackle Barriers Through Sport,” added Fitzpatrick.
Today, Tuesday, 4 April, was a focal point for the CSR activities with a series of community rugby activations at the HK SEVENS Central festival in Chater Garden.
Laureus stars were joined by Mr Stephen Sui, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare of the Hong Kong SAR Government, and the Classic Wallabies touring team, to kick off a meaningful morning of rugby that featured Deaf Rugby, Inclusive Rugby and Wheelchair Rugby.
The HKRU’s team of Inclusive Rugby Officers, as well as Laureus rugby legends like De Villiers and members of the Classic Wallabies are running the programs.
Today’s Chater Garden programmer were supported by the Hong Kong Association for the Deaf, the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee and the Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China (HKSF&OC).
The HKRU has recently applied to join the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee as it seeks to expand its rugby offerings for Hong Kong’s physically challenged athletes.
As part of the wheelchair rugby initiative, Mr Andy Barrow, former captain of the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby team and a participant in three Paralympic Games, three World Championships and five European Championships, headlined the Wheelchair Rugby engagement.
Barrow, who captained Great Britain from 2005 to 2010 before retiring after the 2012 Paralympics, came along to HK SEVENS Central in Chater Garden for a special Wheelchair Rugby demonstration on this afternoon. Members of the Hong Kong Wheelchair Basketball and other wheelchair sports teams were also there to try their hands at rugby with Barrow in the demonstration.
On Thursday, 6 April, the HKRU’s Value of Sport Luncheon returns to the Sevens Week calendar at the City Garden Hotel. Organized by the HKRU, the Value of Sport Luncheon is sponsored by SINO Group, co-organized with the Consulate-General of New Zealand in Hong Kong, and supported by the HKSF&OC and the Hong Kong Elite Athletes Foundation.
This year’s luncheon will be preceded by three workshops including one on Overcoming Adversity run by Andy Barrow.
Other sessions feature Laureus-supported programs including Peace Players run by former Irish rugby international Trevor Ringland. Peace Players operates programs that use sport, primarily basketball, as a way to break down community divides and has been run successfully in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the West Bank and South Africa.
The third workshop will focus on how sport can prevent juvenile delinquency, with former England and South Africa internationals Charlie Hodgson and Neil de Kock moderating. The workshop will also include retired Hong Kong Police Chief Superintendent Ian Seabourne, founder of Operation Breakthrough.
The lunch following the workshops will be hosted by the New Zealand Consul General Gabrielle Rush and will begin with a panel session to recap the morning’s workshops.
Former All Black fly half Andrew Merhtens, Fitzpatrick, de Villiers, Li, and British Olympic gold medallist rower Sir Steven Redgrave will join this year’s luncheon.
The week of positive outcomes will culminate in a press briefing held at Olympic House on Saturday morning of the Hong Kong Sevens, 8 April, to recap the week’s activities.
Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Chief Secretary for Administration of the HKSAR Government, will attend the press briefing on Saturday to demonstrate the Government’s support for sport and the positive impact it can have on personal development.
Mr Karl C. Kwok of the HKSF&OC, Ms Amy Chan Lim Chee of the Hong Kong Elite Athletes’ Association, Mr Sean Fitzpatrick of Laureus and Mr Pieter Schats, Chairman of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, will also attend the press briefing.