Sports Day by Fiona McGregor

The 14th of February was a very special day in the North Point Methodist Primary School calendar. Not because the students, and teachers, were waiting to give or receive that special love letter. No, this was Sports Day. A highly anticipated event where the whole school joins together and spends the day at Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground.

Now, I think I need to clarify the term ‘Sports Day’ and what it means to a Hong Kong primary school, compared to expectations for a primary school sports day in the UK. Firstly, there was no egg and spoon race. I know, tragic. It also did not include a sack race, three-legged race or even a celebratory cheap choc-ice to finish.

Sports day in Hong Kong is comprised of events like the 100m sprint, 200m sprint, 4x100m, long jump and a very competitive bean bag toss. Even the youngest students got a chance to take part in these events which was nothing short of adorable. The day started with a walk-a-thon where every student and their parents, walked around the athletics track, as a way to fundraise for the school, while a few chosen students lined the track and did a synchronised warm up routine. The students were all extremely excited for the races to begin and to have a day away from the classroom.

Selected students leading the synchronised warm up.
My role for the day was to stand at the finish line and judge who placed in the top four in the different races. It was a really sunny, if slightly windy, day and it was fun watching everyone compete and cheering them on from the line. Everyone was in good spirits, despite some very close finishes and some rather dramatic injuries. One poor student face-planted mid race and had to be taken to the waiting first aider who suspected a fractured elbow. Ouch!

The very last race of the day was the Teacher's’ Race, which was a relay race with students, teachers and parents making up each team. Unfortunately, my team did not win, there was a baton exchanging issue, which I am still not bitter about and it was a good time nonetheless.

My highlight for the day was watching the sports day chants. Each class had to perform a chant in front of the whole school, and there were prizes awarded in each year group. There were obviously different expectations for these chants, with the lower primary performing in Cantonese while the older students had to chant in English. I had spent many weeks prior to the event changing lyrics of popular English-speaking songs and recording them so that the students could listen and practice at home.
The songs included ‘ABC’ by the Jackson Five, ‘500 Miles’ by the Proclaimers, ‘Sugar’ by Maroon 5 and ‘Drag Me Down’ by One Direction. I think my proudest achievement as a Scot was watching class 6B sing, ‘I will run 500 miles and I will run 500 more, just to be the class that ran one thousand miles to win that gold medal.’ It was really funny. Accompanying these chants were full routines with pom-poms and everything, as each class pulled out all the stops in the hope of winning.
Whatever age group you work with in Chatteris, the work schedule is always peppered with fun and sometimes unusual events such as this. It can provide a good opportunity for comparison with the school culture that you experienced growing up in the UK, and also to learn more about the school environment in Hong Kong.


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