A Sporting Life

Two areas of Hong Kong life have improved dramatically over the last 20 years and I defy anyone among our usual doomsayers to claim otherwise. I have a particular interest in one quadrant where the two overlap.

Start with the growing equality between men and women. Hong Kong has for many years been ahead of its time in this area and the trend has continued up to the present day. It is hard now to think of an area of public life which is considered to be reserved for players of one gender. You need a lawyer? There are many fine female solicitors and barristers, and when you get to court you are as likely as not to be before a lady magistrate or judge.

Lady bus and taxi drivers? We’ve got’em. Doctors? Wealth managers? The female of the species is every bit as successful as the male. When one thinks of our Executive Council, without wishing to insult the men, I feel bound to say it is the names of Starry Lee, Regina Ip, Fanny Law and Anna Wu that spring first to mind.

The other area I was thinking of recently is sports. The Sports Institute is gradually making inroads into the idea that sport is a hobby which should take a back seat to academic study, not the foundation of a possible career. The number of sports stadiums and pitches is continuing to grow, albeit some would say too slowly, but more important the number of young people taking part seems to be rising.

Where the two areas overlap is sports previously thought of as a purely male preserve, and here we have the Olympic Games to thank, I suspect. So women’s soccer has been with us for many years and has improved apace. The big mover in recent years is women’s rugby, especially following 7s becoming an Olympic event.

OK, it’s true confession time. In March my 16-year-old daughter Tiffany stepped out onto the pitch at the government stadium on the Sunday of the Rugby Sevens tournament wearing the shirt of the Hong Kong national squad. I tried not to be too emotional but there was not a dry eye in (one corner of) the house.