(10 December 2023, Hong Kong) Save the Children Hong Kong successfully hosted the Inspire Cup , a charity football tournament dedicated to supporting Play the Thrive Programme on 10 December. Sponsored by Kowloon Cricket Club, the event aimed to raise awareness and funds for children’s mental health. The event brought together 14 teams representing different brands and football clubs at Kowloon Cricket Club, all united in their commitment to supporting this important cause.

The Inspire Cup was a remarkable showcase of the spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship among the participating teams. The highlight of the event was an Exhibition Match where children from the Play to Thrive Programme demonstrated their exceptional football skills and the social-emotional competences they learned from the programme. These young participants exemplified the power of teamwork, captivating the audience with their talent and enthusiasm. Their performance highlighted the positive impact of the Play to Thrive Programme on their lives.

In recent years, the mental health of children in Hong Kong has become a pressing concern. Studies reveal that up to 39% of primary and secondary school students exhibit potential mental health issues, and the teenage suicide rate is increasing. To address these challenges, Save the Children Hong Kong launched the Play to Thrive Programme in June 2023. This three-year initiative incorporates football training activities to improve children’s physical and social-emotional competence and provide caregivers with positive parenting knowledge and skills. It aims to enhance their mental well-being, resilience, and equip children with skills to manage their emotions in a positive way.

Carol Szeto, CEO of Save the Children Hong Kong delivered an opening remark at the Inspire Cup, she emphasized the importance of providing a safe and healthy environment for every child. Carol highlighted, “We developed this programme in response to the mental well-being situation and needs of Hong Kong children. The Play to Thrive Programme goes beyond football coaching by integrating the development of social-emotional skills. It enables children to thrive, unlock their full potential, and build resilience.”

A coach from the Play to Thrive Programme shared their perspective, stating, “As a coach in the Play to Thrive Programme, it is incredibly rewarding to witness the transformation and growth of the participants. It is an extraordinary experience where we incorporate social-emotional learning into our coaching approach. Football provides a unique platform where children learn the concept of teamwork, accepting and appreciating people’s strengths and weaknesses. These lessons extend beyond the field and have a profound impact on their everyday lives, fostering resilience and empowering them to face challenges head-on.”

Save the Children Hong Kong plans to implement the Play to Thrive Programme in phases, targeting children aged 6 to 8 and 9 to 12. In 2023, eight football training sessions were launched in Sham Shui Po and Tin Shui Wai, benefitting almost 200 children. An annual children’s football competition was hosted on 9 December to showcase the progress made by all the participants. Over the course of three years, the Programme will expand to additional districts, ultimately aiming to reach approximately 1,100 children and support their social-emotional development.

Save the Children Hong Kong is committed to helping every child discover their potential and grow up healthy and happy, through its various services. It also encourages parents, the public, and other stakeholders to actively participate and join hands in promoting children’s issues and their mental health and wellbeing.

For more information about the “Play to Thrive” programme, please visit the event website at https://savethechildren.org.hk/en/local-work/mental-health/play-to-thrive-programme/