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Western Harbour Tunnel Supports Athletes in Elite Coaching Apprenticeship

13 November 2015

Western Harbour Tunnel Company Limited (WHTCL) has sponsored the Hong Kong Sports Institute’s (HKSI) Elite Coaching Apprenticeship Programme (ECAP) since 2013 to cultivate Hong Kong elite athletes to become professional coaches.  Athletes Chan Ka-man (karatedo), Cheng Kwok-fai (windsurfing), Tam Joe-dick (triathlon) and Wong Hon-fung (squash) have benefited from the programme in the past two years.  Today, WHTCL announces its continued support for yet another year. 

Mr Vernon Moore, Chairman of WHTCL, said, “The source of our sponsorship of the ECAP is the revenue lost by closing one tube of the tunnel for the Hong Kong Marathon.  It is therefore very appropriate that the funds available are used to provide, to elite athletes coming to the end of their competitive careers, a series of learning courses and on-the-job training to become professional coaches.  By doing so, we hope to encourage more people to become elite athletes as they can see a continuing career.”

Mr Carlson Tong SBS JP, Chairman of the HKSI, was grateful about the continued support and said, “There is no doubt that retired elite athletes make great coaches.  They have a great deal of experience to share and this programme provides an ideal channel for athletes who have an ambition in a coaching career to benefit from a smooth transition.  The generous sponsorship from WHTCL enables the HKSI to provide training for a new cohort of coaches with significant elite athlete experience.”

The ECAP was launched in 2008 by the HKSI and has helped 20 Hong Kong elite athletes who planned to retire in the coming two years to gain practical experience and skills in the coaching profession in preparation for their post-athletic career.  Athletes are eligible for the programme if they have been a HKSI Scholarship Athlete for a minimum of eight years with outstanding international sporting achievements.  Selected elite athletes receive professional training in a variety of coaching skills such as practical coaching, training plan and report writing.

Incheon 2014 Asian Games gold medallist Cheng Kwok-fai is glad to have found his second career by joining the programme.  “I decided to apply to the programme when I knew that our Head Windsurfing Coach Rene Appel was leaving. I wanted to repay the team by helping to bring up more talented windsurfers.  I would like to thank WHTCL for the sponsorship because I have learnt a lot throughout the programme, including all the required skills to be a good coach.  The programme was instrumental in helping me prepare for my new career.”

Former elite athlete Wong Hon-fung joined the programme in 2014 and retired in April 2015.  He then became a full-time squash coach on 1 September of this year.  Wong expressed, “It is completely different from being a coach to being an athlete.  This programme gave me the rare chance to understand thoroughly the work of an elite coach. It equipped me with a solid foundation before I officially began work as a full-time coach at the HKSI.  I absolutely recommend this programme to whoever is interested in turning from athlete to coach because it allows the participants to have a smooth transition into their new role.”

As the key delivery agent for high performance training for Hong Kong’s elite athletes, the HKSI recognises the importance of a “whole person” development approach to providing services to athletes, and offers athletes educational and career planning services to cater to the different needs of athletes at various stages of their sporting career.  Elite Coaching Apprenticeship is one of the programmes designed for athletes who plan to become coaches after their post-athletic life.