Hong Kong Christian Service

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Issue 007
2015 May

Strive through hardship
Small group home children make a breakthrough in dragon boating

20 June is a special day for children of our small group, volunteers of Operation Breakthrough would bring them to join the first time in mixed group and open group in the dragon boat racing held in Tap Mun. They have been preparing 10 months for this day aiming at a breakthrough in themselves apart from participating in the competition.

This was not the first outing for children of small group home but the first time of a one-year training in dragon boating. Since September last year, they practised in Ma Liu Shui Marine Police Base. Trainers are retired and serving officers from government discipline force of Operation Breakthrough and volunteers from different sectors.

From distorted faces to taking the competition easy

Mr. Stanley Yu (Yu Sir), Director of Operation Breakthrough who is the coordinator of this event, said, "dragon boating is a physically demanding team sport, when these children first got in touch with dragon boat, their faces twisted after 20 strokes, they felt it too harsh and could not handle it. But now, they could make 100 strokes with ease which fulfilled the basic requirement for 400 m. We ask them to put extra effort each time by adding more strokes; they all made huge progress through such training of perseverance and grasping the rhythm of the sport."

Kris, the social worker who also joined the training with these children, saw them grow through the training. She said, "at first children of these 4 small group homes did not get along well, but gradually, they improved in cooperation, communication and initiation, they also develop a keen interest in dragon boating. Some of them just grabbed a piece of bread after school tutorial lessons on Saturday mornings to the training. They continued the practise notwithstanding the coldness and rough sea in winter. From the intensive training, they learnt perseverance and determination."

Witnessing the children grow while undergoing the tough training together

Mr. Lo Wing Kei (Brother Kei), head coach of the dragon boat team came from special unit of the Police force, he has trained the Hong Kong teams, dragon boat teams of the Police force. He is famous for being an iron coach, but when facing these small group home children, his heart softened. He is very supportive and encourages the children that life is like paddling upstream, full of challenges, and he teaches them not to give up despite challenges and difficulties. He teaches the children discipline by being a role model. He has high regard on the children that unlike his other trainees, these children are obedient and he loves and respects them a lot.

"I hope I could join the Police force in the future" wished Fai Wong who is the head of the first row. "I join dragon boating because I want to take part in the race, but now, I look forward to each practise so that I could meet Yu Sir and Brother Kei, they are like family members to me, I want to hug them when I meet them." Being mentors to Fai Wong, Yu Sir and Brother Kei taught him to excel himself physically each time, and he has progressively improved in press up and weight training.

Ah Kei and Ah Lam who are 14 and 17 respectively built up their physical fitness through the practice, they also learnt team spirit and to be more understanding. Ah Lam said, "I learn to be considerate after joining the team, we have differences in our abilities, we cannot expect everyone to be like ourselves." Ah Kei also said, “To paddle at the same time in dragon boating is a constant reminder of our coach, it makes me realise the importance of cooperation in a team.”

Like what Yu Sir said, "People nowadays are very busy, it is not easy to volunteer when one has to give away resources, energy, time, it needs concerted effort to make this training possible. It is an invaluable opportunity for the children and I hope this could bring positive impact to them."

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