The HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens’ position as “the most diverse and inclusive events of its kind” will be underlined even further this year as teams from nine countries take part on the same pitch as young and special needs players watched by around 200 underprivileged children from the local community.
The debuts of French Ligue 1 side Olympique Marseille, Bayer Leverkusen from Germany’s Bundesliga and Cagliari Calcio from Italy’s Serie A adds to the list of countries represented which already includes teams from England, Scotland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong appearing in the 18th edition of the tournament.
The HKFC Citi Junior Soccer Sevens qualifiers also take place the weekend before the May 26-28 event, with 1,500 players descending on Hong Kong Football Club for one of the highlights of the junior calendar.
The HKFC Citi Junior Soccer Sevens U-9, U-10, U-11 and U-12 finals then take place during the main tournament weekend, with exhibition matches for U-14 and U-16 boys and U-16 girls as well as HKFC Crusaders adding to the reach of the event.
“The HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens is one of the most diverse and inclusive events of its kind,” said HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Tournament Director Chris Plowman.
“This year we have extended the reach of the tournament to include teams from France, Italy and Germany, meaning nine countries will be represented in the Main Tournament.
“We also have 1,500 young players, aged six to 12 competing in the HKFC Citi Junior Soccer Sevens the weekend prior to the event and playing out their finals on the main weekend at Hong Football Club.
“We will also have curtain raiser matches for U-14s and U-16s, a girls U-16s exhibition match and, of course, our regular ever-popular feature, the HKFC Crusaders match for special needs players, taking place on the weekend of the main event.”
HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens organisers will also again invite around 200 youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds from the local community as special guests of the tournament.
Sprouts Foundation works with some of Hong Kong’s most underprivileged children to help them break the chain of inter-generational poverty through enhanced education.
With their partners including Po Leung Kuk, they offer nearly 400 students aged 6-17 a range of English-based programmes across language proficiency, sports, arts and life skills to enable them to attain better careers upon leaving school, and 100 of these children will again experience the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens this year.
Operation Breakthrough, meanwhile, is a Hong Kong police initiative that was started in 1996.
Initially a scheme to look at a different way to address the high levels on youth crime and at risk young people in certain communities in Hong Kong, it was extended to include disadvantaged children across all sectors.
The Breakthrough Soccer programme now has over 120 young boys and girls participating every week in the coaching programme, and over 100 will attend this year’s HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens.
“We will also be inviting along as spectators to the event some 200 youngsters with underprivileged backgrounds from local charities to join in the fun further extending the reach and impact of the most diverse edition of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens,” added Plowman.
The Citi All Stars, who will look to defend their Masters Tournament title this year, will also host a clinic for underprivileged children from Hong Kong.
“This is a very popular event for us to host our partners and clients, while the Citi All Stars will also again coach a clinic for some underprivileged children from Hong Kong,” said Citi Country Officer & Chief Executive Officer, Hong Kong & Macau, Weber Lo.
“This tournament also allows us to extend our relationship with Hong Kong Football Club and our sponsorship of the Junior Soccer Programme, which we are extending to include a community outreach programme for underprivileged children.”