(Hong Kong, 16 January 2024) The Vocational Training Council (VTC) and the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China (SF&OC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) yesterday (15 January) to provide athletes with flexible admission and study arrangements, along with comprehensive support, for them to balance sports training and studies so as to facilitate their dual-track development and prepare them for their post-retirement careers.
The MoU is aimed at deepening collaboration between the two parties and offering diverse pathways for retired athletes and those planning to retire. This includes a new flexible admission mechanism under which athletes nominated by the Hong Kong Athletes Career and Education Department (HKACED) under SF&OC will be assessed by VTC based on their career aspirations, non-academic achievements and contributions. VTC will also offer a range of supporting measures, including extending the athletes' study duration and offering flexible arrangements during their time at VTC. This approach acknowledges the athletes' need to balance training, competition and academic pursuits. Additionally, VTC has established scholarships to encourage outstanding athletes to further their studies, such as the Bright Future Charitable Foundation – Outstanding Student-Athlete Scholarship. VTC will also provide guidance to athletes in their academic and career planning through a mentorship programme, helping them explore their future development.
The MoU was signed by VTC Chairman, Mr. Tony TAI and President of SF&OC, Mr. Timothy FOK. Mr. TAI expressed VTC's appreciation for SF&OC’s recognition and support for Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET), saying it further deepened the collaboration between VTC and SF&OC in promoting VPET and nurturing talent, thus contributing to the development of VPET in Hong Kong. The partnership would create more VPET pathways for Hong Kong athletes, facilitating their future professional growth and career planning, he added, noting that VTC had a history of proactively supporting professional athletes, many of whom had pursued VTC courses in the past. This allowed the athletes to concentrate on training and competition while preparing for post-retirement transitions, offering them comprehensive opportunities for further education and career advancement.
President of SF&OC, Mr. FOK, said that the collaboration would cover all 14 member institutions of VTC, offering a wide range of programmes including Degree, Higher Diploma, Diploma and Continuous Professional Education (CPE) courses. Mr. FOK said it could cater athletes’ needs from different background and interests, and nurture them to become professions from different sectors. He expressed his gratitude to VTC in providing a foster environment where athletes could achieve self-enhancement and transformation. He added that SF&OC looked forward to establishing closer ties with VTC in the future, thus to enable athletes to shine by displaying their sportsmanship in different sectors and contribute to the society. Under the collaboration, SF&OC can nominate eligible athletes to enrol in VTC’s programmes in each academic year. HKACED will also provide comprehensive support to athletes, including scholarship programme for eligible athletes, education consultation and life skills training programmes and so on, to encourage athletes to equip themselves and enhance their workplace competitiveness.
VTC has been a strong advocate for VPET and recognises the importance of non-academic achievements in young individuals. Every year, its member institutions admit students with exceptional sporting talents, who not only pursue sports-related programmes but also various other disciplines such as computer and electronic engineering, social work and biotechnology. Ms. Lisa CHENG, a well-known former rock-climber nicknamed "Spider Girl", joined the MoU signing to share her experience of studying the Higher Diploma in Sports Management and Training Science at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE), highlighting her immersion in subjects like nutrition and anatomy, which allowed her to discover new interests and attain coaching qualifications in fitness, boxing, health dance and belly dance. These endeavours not only advanced her career but also provided her with valuable knowledge for life, she explained. "In the past, I had to balance training and attending classes. With the signing of this MoU, athletes will be able to focus more on training, and benefit from flexible arrangements when encountering difficulties. I hope that younger athletes can explore their potential beyond sports in a good learning environment."
Mr. LEE Kwun-wai, a member of the Hong Kong Trampoline Team and a second-year student pursuing the Higher Diploma in Sports Coaching at IVE, has been awarded multiple scholarships from VTC, including the "Bright Future Charitable Foundation – Outstanding Student-Athlete Scholarship" for two consecutive years. As he had to miss some classes owing to his participation in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou last year, IVE provided him with flexible class arrangements. Expressing his satisfaction with the MoU between VTC and SF&OC, LEE said "I will be representing Hong Kong at the Asian Championships in May. With the support of IVE, I can fully dedicate myself to training without any concerns and strive to bring glory to Hong Kong."
An earlier MoU with SF&OC was signed in 2022 by the Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (THEi), a member institution of VTC. Mr. HO Cheuk-kiu, a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) in Sports and Recreation Management at THEi, has a deep passion for martial arts and has excelled in numerous local competitions. With plans to become a full-time athlete this year, he has requested flexible arrangements from THEi to allocate more time for training. "Full-time athletes need to train five hours a day, which makes the school's support crucial. I hope that more athletes can benefit from the MoU and strike a better balance between academic studies and athletic practice," said HO.
The new MoU covers all VTC programmes and offers a wide range of subjects across various academic levels. Athletes can choose a progression pathway that aligns with their personal interests and abilities. This includes a number of programmes specifically related to sports and recreation, such as the Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) in Sports and Recreation Management at THEi; the Higher Diploma in Sports Coaching, Higher Diploma in Sports Studies with Smart Technology, Higher Diploma in Fitness and Exercise Nutrition, and Higher Diploma in Rehabilitation Services at IVE; and the Diploma of Vocational Education (Fitness and Sports Studies) at Youth College.
If athletes plan to combine their experience with other professional fields, such as working as an athlete nutrition consultant, they may consider programmes such as the Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Nutrition and Healthcare Management at THEi, the Higher Diploma in Applied Nutritional Studies and Diploma of Foundation Studies – Health and Life Sciences at IVE, or the Diploma of Vocational Education (Food Technology and Nutrition) at Youth College. These programmes equip students with knowledge of nutrition and menu design, allowing them to customise diet plans for athletes.
For those interested in sports industry and project management, considerations may include the Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Public Relations and International Events Management programme at THEi, and Higher Diploma in Event Marketing and Business Promotion or Higher Diploma in Leisure Management at IVE. These programmes cover organisational skills for planning and co-ordinating sports events and activities, as well as marketing strategies for sports brands and business management. Athletes aiming to apply data and intelligent technology to the field of sports can explore programmes at IVE such as the Higher Diploma in Data Science and AI, and the Diploma of Foundation Studies – Information Technology. These programmes provide insights into utilising technology to analyse athletes' performance, incorporating artificial intelligence to develop personalised training plans, prevent injuries and enhance performance.
Vocational Training Council and Hong Kong Athletes Career & Education Department, Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China