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Paying it Forward! Good Sports

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DB tweens Parth Sane and Kaydn Park are on individual missions to help make the world that little bit better. Elizabeth Kerr reports

PHOTOS BY Baljit Gidwaniwww.evoqueportraits.com

Parth Sane is going to reduce tennis’ environmental impact. Kaydn Park is going to contribute to popular football coach Christian Romano’s cancer treatment. The 11-year-old Discovery College students spent the better part of their summers serving the community in some form. No one would hold it against them if they wanted to sit at home and play video games in climate-controlled rooms, but Parth and Kaydn opted for a more active school break.

Tennis player Parth’s project is Every Ball Matters (www.everyballmatters.com) , a programme designed to collect, reuse and repurpose tennis balls and the cans they come in. Trail runner Kaydn started fundraising for Christian’s treatment about two weeks after the 28-year-old HK Dragons Football Club coach was diagnosed in mid-June. “When he dropped into practice, he always made me and the other kids feel happy. He’s a nice guy and a great coach,” recalls Kaydn. “When we heard about his diagnosis and that he had no medical insurance we got to talking about it, and I thought I would help him, and then thought about what I did best.”

That statement could be applied equally to both boys. They have more in common than school and community activism. Both are avid readers with imaginative tastes. Parth is a fan of The Mysterious Benedict Society and Harry Potter, and he’s currently catching up on Trollhunters. Kaydn recently discovered Enter the Dragon, and lights up at the prospect of Game of Death. He has thoughts about Jungle Cruise: “Why couldn’t the guy do anything to himself about the curse? Can’t they do any healing spells? Or a protection spell for his daughter? I know what they were trying but they could have made the curse part a bit more realistic.”

Despite their youth, or perhaps because of it, both Kaydn and Parth have very definite plans for the future. Kaydn is looking at a career in mathematics – “give me some difficult questions and some time and I’ll figure it out” – and Parth is aiming for a career in tennis with the ATP.


Born in Hong Kong, Parth has been playing tennis since he was four, initially here in DB with Ajit Gidwani of Forward Motion. He’s now a regular in local junior tennis tournaments and enrolled in the Hong Kong Tennis Association National Training Programme. Parth plays four times weekly, for three hours at a stretch. On this second day of secondary school, he and mum Bashuli, who relocated here from eastern India as a newlywed, come bounding into a DB coffee shop, both decked out in tennis gear.

“I got to wondering one day where the balls go after they’re used. So I made a survey and found out most people just toss them,” explains Parth. “I created a website and used it as a school project and it built from there. More and more people saw the survey and responded, and so I included the results on the website. And it’s not just balls; it’s the tin cans they come in.” DB’s courts use roughly 2,500 balls monthly, most of which wind up in landfill. Parth then discovered of the 325 million tennis balls manufactured annually, 300 million are trashed after just an average of 10 hours of use (much less for pros). It takes 400 years for one tennis ball to decompose. Unlike footballs and basketballs, they can’t be re-inflated. The project morphed into Every Ball Matters (EBM). “You don’t need to open a can every single time you practise,” Parth chides. Parth has piercing greenish, almost teal eyes, which can either implore or shame you depending on the circumstances. In just over three months 2,000 tennis balls have been repurposed for junior players’ use and as donations to less privileged young athletes in the Philippines. Over 300 cans have been collected for recycling.

The website Parth built for EBM offers up ideas on what to do with old balls and cans and a clear outline of his methodology. He explains the lifecycle of a tennis ball as going from firmest yellow to green, orange and softest red, and how dotting them indicates their age. But what becomes of balls after the red stage?

“That’s what I’m not sure of right now,” Parth says. “I found a big company in the US that makes the balls into playground turf. I hope I can find someone closer that does the same kind of thing. I’m also going to reach out to [racquet manufacturer] HEAD. The Asia boss used to be my coach.” Evidently, Parth is connected too.

Connected and mad about tennis. Recalling a family trip to Wimbledon, Parth describes how he got to “touch the grass and see [favourite player] Novak Djokovic play.” He goes into great detail about his most recent, unfortunately losing, doubles match in Victoria Park. “I’m a better singles player. My serve and my volley are good but my backhand could use work,” he comments, nodding vigorously when asked if he’s got a Grand Slam in his future, hopefully an Australian Open or Wimbledon.

But Parth’s not about to let EBM fade away. He’s hoping to set up collection points around DB and Lantau, and one is confirmed for Decathlon Sports in Central, which could spread to other shops if it takes off. Don’t forget, every ball matters.


While Parth looks at the big picture and his preferred sport’s impact on the environment, Kaydn is leveraging his to help a friend. Kaydn and his mum Claire are sitting at the same table the Sanes did a week later. With Year 8 around the corner, Kaydn is heading to a football trial in Causeway Bay; he’s a centre. Unsurprisingly, centres do the most running. Kaydn has lived in Hong Kong since he was five months old, when his parents relocated from Scotland. He also has vibrant green eyes (what’s in DB’s water?) that dart around and hint at an active mind.

Though Kaydn has “been running since he could stand,” according to Claire, he really got a feel for trail running with his dad. “I started to think it was really fun,” says Kaydn. “I could move quickly, dodging ditches and streams, going down slopes… just be agile.” In the last few years, Kaydn’s won three Team FEAR adventure races and completed a 7K Challenge (seven kilometres every day for seven weeks) and an Everest Challenge (which entailed running up 850 metres every day until hitting the requisite 8,848 metres). He ran the Hong Kong Trail in nine hours last Christmas.

To help Christian, Kaydn wanted to do something fresh as well, so he came up with the idea of running every street in DB – a total of 30.43 kilometres. With an assist from Facebook, DB Mums and word of mouth, Kaydn racked up sponsors. Wanting to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later, he knocked off the last day of school on June 30 and ran from his home at Peninsula Village through the tunnel to DB North Plaza. DBers followed his course along the way, offering a combination of encouragement and water.

“I thought I’d be lucky to raise HK$8,000. A friend pointed out that if everyone paid up, I might raise HK$20,000,” he notes proudly. In the end, Kaydn’s run raised just shy of HK$60,000.

Kaydn followed up on his run by taking part in the July 17 Christian Romano Football Fundraiser sponsored by Tanner De Witt. The tournament saw several junior football teams play in DB to honour their coach and was the precursor to a second football fundraiser for adult teams on July 31 at Happy Valley Racecourse.

Right now, Kaydn is flirting with other ideas for running challenges later in the year, some of which may go towards the ongoing fundraising for Christian (search Christian Romano at www.gofundme.com for donation info). At the top of his run list is a 55-kilometre circumnavigation of Hong Kong Island when it cools down, or something like the 7K Challenge. “My dad suggested the MacLehose but no,” he blanches. “That’s a bit too long.” For now.

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