Life after sports: stars shine the way

June 14, 2020

Natural Yip reached a crossroads in life when she hung up her cricket bat.


She was part of the Hong Kong cricket team at the Asian Games twice in the past decade and played the sport professionally for years until she retired in 2018.


To navigate the post-retirement sea change, Ms Yip joined the Stars to Shine Mentorship Programme in the same year to help her switch gears and prepare to start a new chapter.


Under the guidance of programme mentor Amy Chan, she was able to undergo a successful career change.


“I have no doubt that they can be very successful in other businesses. So what they need to do is to join this type of programme, to have a mentor share their experiences and also, with a little help, they can flourish,” Ms Chan said.


A renowned Hong Kong badminton player who won gold in the mixed doubles event at the 1990 Commonwealth Games, Ms Chan retired as an athlete that year and became headmistress of the Jockey Club’s Apprentice Jockeys’ School in 2006.


She explained that the winning mentality of athletes contributes to their success in other fields.


“I really think that as athletes, they have all types of qualities - they are very, very hard-working, they have determination and they face challenges without any fear.


"They will bring all these qualities to their new jobs.”


Valuable lessons

Ms Yip is now working as a sports promotion co-ordinator at a local school. She said Ms Chan taught her valuable life lessons during the two-year mentorship.


“When I met Amy, I could see that she is a very determined lady. When she was young, she played badminton and was very focused and trained hard.


“When she retired, she did not pick up any badminton coaching duties, she just changed her life direction. When I talked to her, I understood that when we have a goal and direction, we will be successful.”


The Stars to Shine scheme was launched by the Hong Kong Athletes Career & Education Programme.


Eight famous retired athletes who are now working in different industries joined the scheme as mentors when its first phase launched in 2018.


Retired rugby player Candy Cheng was also a programme mentee. She is now the development and transition programme co-ordinator at the Hong Kong Rugby Union.


Ms Cheng said she learnt about the public relations industry through her mentor, Vivian Lee, a former swimmer.


“The interaction with Vivian and other mentors broadened my vision. Vivian has worked on a lot of PR and event management projects.


“I think the interaction with my mentor gave me opportunities to meet more people, to see more things. This has inspired me to have different ideas in my current job.”


Ms Lee, who won silver at the 1994 Asian Games, stressed former athletes should research different industries before they choose a career path.


“Every person, they are very unique, they have different strengths and weaknesses. And in each industry, the requirements are different.


“I would highly recommend them to take some opportunities, to really take up some internships or short-term contracts to explore what they really like.”


The second phase of the Stars to Shine programme will be launched in October.


Visit the Hong Kong Athletes Career & Education Programme website for more details.

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