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Extending Belief Beyond a Football Pitch

Extending Belief Beyond a Football Pitch

A group of cheerful Cambodian children is standing at a football pitch.  Amidst them is a Hong Kong girl.  Anyone who sees this photo would think that she is just a tourist.  Who would have thought that this girl, Gaga Tsang, a BA student majoring in Translation, initiated the construction of this football pitch.

Gaga’s connection with Cambodia dates back to her second year in HKU.  She enrolled in a course that would spend two weeks in Cambodia where volunteer tourism was growing.  Upon visiting a local orphanage, Gaga felt guilty.  “The orphans were abandoned when they were little, and when they grow up, volunteers come and go,” she said.  “I realised volunteering should be sustainable and long-term.”  Gaga returned to Cambodia and visited a local village by chance.  She saw little kids play football on bare feet.  The ball was not bouncy, rocks were scattered all over the ground, and their feet were all bruised, but they were happy.

“Sports is not all about eliteness,” Gaga commented.  As a rugby player, Gaga reckons sports is beneficial to children’s growth.  “There are so much things one can learn from sports: perseverance, teamwork and ways to deal with pressure and failure,” said Gaga.  “I believe volunteering is about sharing values.  If the kids can learn the values we shared via sports, it helps them in the long run.”  As a result, Gaga and two other HKU students established Beyond Belief.  “I am most grateful for having the first project team with my teammates, friends and classmates.  Without this wonderful team, I can’t make it,” she said.  

After a year of preparation, the team got a funding of HK$30,000 from SERVICE 100 Fund and Chun Wo Charitable Foundation Limited.  The football pitch was constructed by following the standard in Hong Kong.  Local Cambodians are not only the beneficiaries, but also pillars of the project.  A Cambodian friend of Gaga brought several locals to the team to help out with translation and construction.  “It raises their awareness of being supportive power of local volunteerism.”

In coming December, Beyond Belief will head to Cambodia again.  This time, volunteers from diverse backgrounds will build a playground in a village school.

Gaga is currently participating in an exchange programme in Queensland.  Though the phone interview was made with a distance of 3,667 miles, it was still easy to feel Gaga’s passion for her project.  She talked about her project non-stop during the interview.  So what is her future plan for Beyond Belief?  “It will depend on the needs of local villagers,” answered Gaga.  “My idea is: if need be, we help.  If we don’t ask the villagers before we construct the community, it will be non-effective and disrespectful to them.”

Written by:
Clare Wong
Year 3, Faculty of Arts
November 2018

Extending Belief Beyond a Football Pitch