“Sport can change lives”
In September 2003 it was decided to expand the existing boxing programme to include rugby, and a partnership was forged between the Police Rugby Club, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union and the police and social services in Wong Tai Sin and Tin Sui Wai – towns with huge public housing estates and high levels of juvenile delinquency. This was a novel development in that none of the boys selected for the project had ever played rugby or even held a rugby ball before, but by September 2004 the boys were able to form an U16s team.
The Standard Chartered Bank has been the team’s main sponsors since 2005, by which time numbers had swollen to more than 40, and an U18s team was added. A significant milestone was reached in April 2004 when one of the boys toured to Sri Lanka with the Hong Kong U16 national team, and then in April 2007 the first Breakthrough boy was selected for the National U18 team. In 2006, Breakthrough rugby embarked on their first overseas tour to Singapore and since then the annual tours, sponsored by people from the local rugby community have become very much a part of the rugby section of Breakthrough.
New recruits are mainly recruited each year during a summer rugby course. We train every Wednesday evening at the Police Club in Boundary Street, even throughout the rugby off-season.
Since these early days we now run an U14, U16 and U19 boys team in the local colts’ league and have nearly a 100 registered players. We are also happy to see a lot of our boys who have left the scheme playing in the tertiary leagues and in some of the senior teams, including Police. In September 2011 it was particularly pleasing to see many of our ex-boys helping to form the new Tin Siu Wai Pandas club and they make up about half of that club’s committee.
In recent years we have had boys play for Valley and HK Scottish in the HK Premier Rugby league, HK U20s, and the showcase Sevens. We are also proud to say that 8 Breakthrough boys have joined the HKRU as community rugby officers. Many others, having completed IRB coaching courses, are now not only helping with the Breakthrough coaching duties and running the teams on match days but also involved in coaching minis and colts teams elsewhere.
We are finally very proud to say that we currently have 9 serving police officers who all started as Breakthrough rugby players.