A group of 12 hearing-impaired youngsters from local grassroots rugby organisation Kampuchea Balopp set off yesterday morning for an inspiring weekend tour of Hong Kong, where they will play two tag rugby games on the sands of the picturesque Repulse Bay.
The 11 boys and one girl, aged 13-17 years, are associated with Phnom Penh-based children’s NGO Krousar Thmey. None of them have ever travelled abroad. The Hong Kong Rugby Football Union is helping to sponsor the visit with HKRFU community manager Robbie McRobbie as its chief organiser.
The team will be accompanied by a representative from Krousar Thmey and lead by Kampuchea Balopp program development manager Jean-Baptiste Suberbie and senior coach Dul Khemrin.
A two-match challenge against a combined Chun Tok/Lutheran outfit forms part of tomorrow’s inaugural Hong Kong Beach Sports Festival.
“The two teams will be a mix of boys and girls and they’ll play the tag variation of rugby which avoids full contact. With some of the students having expensive cochlea implants tackling is not an option, even on the soft sand of Repulse Bay beach,” a HKRFU press release stated yesterday.
“For those students who have the more traditional removable hearing aids this is not a barrier however, and several students have gone on to join local clubs and participate in the domestic rugby leagues,” it also said.
The Cambodian squad will spend a morning at the Chun Tok school, where the teachers have planned a series of activities to “Bridge the Gap” and give the students an opportunity to get to know each other and build friendships.
The group will also enjoy some of the sights and sounds of Hong Kong by visiting Ocean Park before tomorrow’s tournament.
“[It’s a] really good to chance for the Krousar Thmey kids to visit Hong Kong and see life outside of Cambodia, and a good experience to build their self confidence,” said Dul Khemrin.
“It’s great for them to meet kids from other countries who share the same impairments. Thanks for Hong Kong Rugby Football Union for the opportunity.”
Suberbie added: “For them to represent their country and their NGO is something they can be proud if. All of the families of the kids are very happy and proud.They have overcome disabilities and adversity, so we are sending a good message the whole community.”