More than 100 people, including schoolchildren and corporate executives, took part in an annual tournament hosted by the Hong Kong Football Club (HKFC) at the Happy Valley Recreation Ground last month.
Co-organised by the HKFC and Operation Santa Claus (OSC), the event on November 19 was part of a month-long charity drive held by the South China Morning Post and public broadcaster RTHK every year.
Celebrating its 36th anniversary this year, OSC has raised HK$369 million (US$47.2 million) to support the community through 338 charitable projects since 1988.
In an interview with the Post, Mark Grainger, chairman of the HKFC soccer section, expressed his gratitude for the initiative, saying that he believed the sport embodied the unique ability to bring people together and create a sense of unity.
“Playing football together while supporting charitable causes is truly worthwhile,” he said. “Not only does it bring people together, but it also allows us to make a positive impact on the community.”
Four teams representing UBS, Hogan Lovells, Chubb and the Post took part in the event, which also saw three groups comprising 17 players aged 10 or below, coached by Laurent Laporte, head coach of the U10 team at the HKFC.
“We’ve been participating in this tournament every year,” he said. “Hong Kong does offer great accessibility to football, despite the urban landscape dominated by tall buildings. We have football venues and sports grounds in every district, along with a variety of leagues and tournaments that cater to players of different ages and skill levels.”
The tournament was very meaningful for the young players, as it gave them the opportunity to support children and families from underprivileged backgrounds and helped instil the importance of contributing to one’s community at an early age, he said.
Joshua Lee, a player from the Hogan Lovells team, said his company had been a dedicated donor and long-time supporter of the event.
“When our company recruited team players, the response was overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “Besides supporting this tournament, we also prioritise charitable and volunteering activities, collaborating with other NGOs as part of our commitment to being a socially responsible law firm.”
Charles Lui Ka-kui, a member of the football team of Chubb Insurance, a long-time supporter of the event, said the players were passionate and practised regularly.