Speech on Motion on Evaluating the effectiveness of the policy on ‘promoting sports in the community, supporting elite sports and developing Hong Kong into a prime destination for hosting major international sports events’ and formulating a long-term sports policy

Hong Kong has never had a concrete sports policy, thus stalling the city’s sports development. In fact, not only do sports benefit the participants, it is also hugely beneficial to the society. However, since the Handover, the government has been busy focusing on economic and political crises. As a result, they have had no time for areas that require long-term policies, such as sports policy. The government has presumably forgotten about their then proposal – “Promoting sports in the community, supporting elite sports, and developing Hong Kong into a prime destination for hosting major international sports events”. All that seems to be left are empty slogans.
I love running. And I can tell everyone, not only does exercising enhance our physical health, it also comforts our minds. Exercising makes us feel happy with our lives and thus boosts our ambition. Therefore, I always support the development of sports and encourage citizens to take up sports and become physically active. But sports developments must require the long-term promotion from the government. To put it simply, the most fundamental function of sports is to maintain citizens’ good mental and physical health, and thus reduces public health expenditure.
The benefits of sports go far beyond that. It contributes immensely to the stability and peace of a society. From the United Kingdom to the entire continental Europe, the flourishing development of football has become a social culture. Citizens enjoy football matches for leisure. Not only has football become a hobby for the British, it has united the community and the whole nation, thus largely decreasing any discontentment. In families, every member has a common topic and belief; this increases a family’s cohesion. As we see on television, whenever there is a big match, local supporters really get so excited. When citizens have spiritual sustenance, their satisfaction towards the society will elevate. Societal conflicts will naturally decrease; therefore, sports are undoubtedly an important mechanism to national stability.
Frankly, Hong Kong really needs a similar stability mechanism. This city is an economically well-developed setup. Not many opportunities are offered for young people to climb up the social ladder; many of them cannot find satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment at work. Therefore, they need a hobby in life to meet spiritual needs. Sports are the best solution. Whether they participate in sports themselves or watch a game, it can bring them endless joy. At the same time, it releases their stress at work. I once worked in a German company. The German youth faces similar problems. To help them, their government encourages young people to cultivate themselves culturally to bring more joy to their lives. Sports are a focal point. Therefore, sports and the entire society policy go hand in hand. Governments overseas very much value sports policy; the SAR government should learn from their experiences and strive to develop a long-term sports policy.
As to how to promote sports development, today’s original motion has made many useful suggestions worth for the government to look into. I personally believe that we should first popularise sports. The best is to start from schools, because students are the groups who exercise the most. Many sports lovers grew up to love sports during their student years. The government should encourage schools to value physical education development; pass on sports knowledge to students and to cultivate their interest in sports. Schools should organize more intra- and inter-schools competitions for students of different levels to participate.
At the same time, the government should provide more cheerful sports facilities that charge heavily subsidized fees. Otherwise even when citizens want to exercise, they do not have a place to do so. Communities can also host more competitions or sponsor residents to form competition teams. Moreover, sports can be a trendy event. For example, biking is becoming increasingly popular in the recent years. These events are worth the government’s promotion. The government is currently building large cycling tracks to match up with this trend.
As for supporting elite sports and hosting international sports events, because Hong Kong lacks professional sports competitions, it is unfavourable when it comes to cultivating professional sportspeople. I have suggested that the government should assist local football, basketball and volleyball teams to join in professional leagues in the Mainland. It can upgrade the local athletes’ standards, while it attracts local citizens to watch the matches and support local teams. This can strengthen Hong Kong’s relationship with different provinces in the Mainland. To achieve the desired outcome, barriers are inevitable. There will be lots of technical and financial issues, as well as scandals that may arise during leagues in the Mainland. This might even lead to controversies. But I still believe that this is worth for the government to look into. If Hong Kong can build one or two strong football teams which win leagues in the Mainland, it will surely attract a lot of support from Hong Kongers. This will lead to successful football development.
Lastly, the motion suggests the development of sports-related industries, including sports insurance, to provide diversified career paths for athletes and youth, and encourage the business sector to sponsor sports events. I, as an insurance industry representative, certainly welcome this recommendation and agree that there is a need to expand sports-related insurance products. But the demand must reach a certain scale, otherwise the trade cannot sustain. I believe that any other sports-related industries will face the same problem. Therefore, the government must first come up with a long-term sports policy to greatly promote sports development. When there are more sports lovers in the society, the sports-related industries will naturally see fruitful results.

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