16 November 2020

It's a Team Effort

Doug Wolfson is a keen sportsman and proud member of one of Movember Hong Kong’s highest fundraising teams
Doug speaks to us about why supporting Movember brings his team the 'Hong Kong University Sandy Bay Rugby Mos' together, through good times and bad, and how getting men to start talking openly has been easier than expected!

A sports team will bring men and women together from all walks of life and with different experiences.  Doug Wolfson’s Movember team includes cancer survivors and guys who have lost parents and grandparents to cancer.  Within their own community, they also have first hand experience of losing people to mental health issues.   Individually and collectively they are all passionate about building a winning team to create more awareness around men’s health.

Doug explains, “I think it always starts with a bunch of guys who have something in common, wanting to grow moustaches, and then it blossoms from there.  Once we realized that we were actually quite good at raising money for an excellent cause, we took it increasingly seriously every year and became one of the top fundraising teams not only in Hong Kong, but in the World.”

Mental health is a huge issue in the rugby community, as it is through all walks of life.  “We were expected to be tough guys who go out and smash into each other on the pitch and then enjoy a couple of beers afterwards. 

“There was no expectation, or room, to talk about feelings, fears or issues. Contrary to popular belief, however, it really hasn’t been that difficult to change that view. I think men, all along, did want to talk about these things, but we just thought that because we didn’t, we weren’t supposed to feel that way.  Talking about how it’s OK to not be OK, and that there are safe spaces to tell people about your anxieties has really changed everyone’s view on what is acceptable.  Making it clear that talking to our mates is a much better result than losing our mates, has led to a completely different approach to men’s mental health by everyone involved in the discussion.”

The last 18 months in Hong Kong have been tough for everyone and we have not had the usual outlet of physical activity and playing team sports.   “It’s been really tough at times, without the chance to go out and blow off some steam by playing contact sports, and missing the comradery and banter that goes with that as well.  But we’ve had pockets of opportunity in Hong Kong and have been able to get out for an occasional meal or drinks with friends and teammates. 
“There are certainly some people who have struggled and we’ve done our best to be there for them as they deal with the anxiety of the situation. 

“A number of people have invested in PS4s and Xboxes in order to still be somewhat social, while social distancing, so that’s been good as well, but we’re still waiting for a world class rugby game!”
These are anxious times and keeping the conversation going is important, whatever the social distance.  “What I’ve done is just try to understand and rationalize how different, and difficult, these times have been.  When I’m struggling, I have a couple of trusted mates who I reach out to that I know I can talk to with minimal judgement.  I think that this is really key, because we all struggle once we get going inside our own heads.”


Despite the challenge of our current times, Doug remains committed to supporting Movember.  “We love doing large, social, fundraising events – Club Days, Movember Parties, the HKU Sandy Bay Mini-Rugby Festival has always historically been in November – but 2019 and 2020 in Hong Kong have been tough.  So, for 2020 we’re going back to our roots – dodgy taches and grassroots fundraising!”