"I think we should join hands and change the world’s notion of wellness": Interview with Amy Chan, Hong Kong Elite Athletes Association

29/10/2020

Picture: Amy Chan at the MOVE Congress 2019 in Budapest

As the chairperson of the Hong Kong Elite Athletes Association and a former athlete and Olympic Bronze medallist, Amy Chan is one of the most experienced members of the MOVE Transfer Europe-China project’s Active Schools Group. Hilal Erkoca from ISCA spoke to Amy Chan about her job, daily life in Hong Kong after Covid-19 lockdowns, and their captivating Zoom event "Start the New School Season with Elite Athletes".

Could you kindly introduce yourself and your position at Hong Kong Elite Athletes Association?

I was a badminton player and represented Hong Kong internationally. I was an Olympic Bronze medallist at the Seoul Olympics and a gold medallist at the Auckland Commonwealth Games. After retiring from the Hong Kong team, I furthered my studies at Springfield University in the United States and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management and a Master in Business Administration from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Education University of Hong Kong in early 2019.

I have been the Headmistress of the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) Apprentice Jockeys’ School since 2006. Prior to joining the HKJC, I opened up an Athlete Affairs Department which helps athletes after their retirement. I am an active member in sports and community services by enthusiastically participating in various local community services.

I am the Chairperson and one of the founder of the Hong Kong Elite Athletes Association (HKEAA), which was established in 1996 as a non-profit organisation with the aim to gather the talents and efforts of elite athletes to serve the community. Our membership base is the former and existing scholarship athletes of the Hong Kong Sports Institute as well as Hong Kong representatives at Asian Games or higher levels of international competitions.

How did you decide to participate in MOVE Transfer (MT) Europe-China Project? Could you tell us your story?

HKEAA initiated the Active School Programme in 2013 with an aim to “ensure our children are healthily developed and grow under a happy and delightful environment”. HKEAA offered various sports activities to Primary and Secondary schools with professional coaches free of charge; on one hand offering job opportunities for elite athletes who have retired from their sports competition and at the same time developing our children’s interest and habit of regular exercise. With well received response from various sports coaching services providers, as well as school principals and teachers, we served 12 schools at the very beginning and increased to up to 80 schools in mid-2016 with donations from different sponsors.

We then obtained funding of HK$20.47 million from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust to organise the “Active School Programme” for 3 years from June 2016 to May 2019. Another funding of HK$32.44 million was further granted for an extended “Active School and Active Community” programme for another 3 years up to May 2022.

With more parties joining our Active School Programmes, we involved over 40 services providers, including the HK Gymnastic Association (HKGA). As the Chairs of HKGA, Professor Cheung Siu Yin, and HKEAA (myself), we then got in touch with ISCA in early 2019 and were invited to join the MOVE Transfer Europe-China project.

How is daily life and the current situation in Hong Kong?

With the Covid-19 issues, our daily life in Hong Kong has been boring with restrictions in place and limitation of 2 persons allowed in a group since mid-July 2020. We seldom go out to meetfriends or have any social gathering; under critical situations we at times have to work from our home office as well. With the recent situation, we had some improvement in mid-September and restrictions were relaxed to allow 4 persons in a group. Local schools resumed as normal in late September with lessons limited to half a day and keeping a social distance of 1.5 metres; physical lessons were gradually resumed under careful control.

Could you inform us about the Active School Programme – Start a New School Season with Elite Athletes Zoom event? How did you come up with this project?

As most of the physical contact programmes or events were suspended over 7-8 months since February 2020, I initiated the idea of having the first Zoom event before school started back in late September aiming to:

  • Encourage students, teachers and principals in schools; as well as adults and the elderly in the communities to keep moving or maintain regular exercises during the pandemic period.
  • Design a set of movements suitable for all age levels, and let them work on these movements at home to maintain their fitness training.
  • Encourage schools to use the designed movements as physical education’s teaching content for home-based learning.
  • Aim to gather 1000 participants of school teachers, principals and students, parents, local citizens, and government officials to do exercises at the same period of time led by HK Elite Athletes.

How could you define the MT Europe-China project’s contribution to you and your institution?

I believe we can learn from different sports organisations in different countries and share each other’s successful experiences in arranging different sports activities with the same target to promote/encourage all age groups to have regular exercise habits or do sports.

What are your ongoing and future projects as Hong Kong Elite Athletes Association?

I hope to continue our sports promotion target and extend our Active School and Active Community Programme in upcoming futures by planning and designing more interest programmes, events or activities to attract more peoples in town in participating of sports; attracting more sponsors to make donations so that we can offer more scholarship or donation to help those in need; and further extending our sports programmes to improve mental health.

Would you like to add anything?

I think we should join hands and change the world on the concept and notion of wellness. Let’s do more in this area to make the world a better place to live.