A footballer from Hong Kong, who has overcome drug addiction, has won a Fair Play Award at this year’s Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Cyrus Lau Yui was celebrated for a simple gesture of kindness – delivering water bottles to members in the rival team, according to a press release on the event’s official website.

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Team Hong Kong’s Cyrus Lau Yui receives the Fair Play Award from Carlos Soto, President of the Chilean association of professional footballers and FIFPro Division America board member. Photo: Homeless World Cup via Flickr.

Lau voluntarily carried water bottles to the Greek squad across the pitch during a break in a match on Wednesday, said match referee Paul Nagtegaal.

“These displays of consideration and respect are exactly what we are looking for during this tournament. Lau Yui truly embodies the spirit of Fair Play,” Nagtegaal said.

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Team Hong Kong pose in the rain after Cyrus Lau won the Fair Play Award. Photo: Homeless World Cup via Flickr.

The Homeless World Cup is an annual international football tournament in which street sleepers and reformed drug addicts and alcoholics take part. Founded in 2003 by Scottish social entrepreneur Mel Young and Austrian former journalist Harald Schmied, the event has been held in Austria, Sweden, South Africa and other countries.

This year, 63 male and female teams from 48 nations have participated in the games, which are being held between September 12-19 in Amsterdam.

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Team Hong Kong pose with the HKSAR flag by a pitch at the Homeless World Cup. Photo: SoCO

Hong Kong has taken part in the tournament since 2005.

This year, Team Hong Kong has won seven out of ten games so far, beating South Korea, Denmark, Greece, Scotland, the Philippines and India.

Ng Wai-tung, a social worker from the Society for Community Organization (SoCO) and Team Hong Kong’s manager, said playing in the Homeless World Cup helps homeless people regain confidence and self-respect.

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Legislator Leung Kwok-hung (first on the left in the front row) has been accompanying Team Hong Kong to Homeless World Cup tournaments for three years. Photo: SoCO.

Ng said Legislative Councillor Leung Kwok-hung is a big fan of the competition, adding that he has accompanied Team Hong Kong to the tournaments in the past three years.

Update at 5pm September 18: 

Lau told HKFP he was surprised to receive the award for doing such a simple thing. “Because my English is not good, I didn’t know what the organisers were saying when they announced the award…the coach later told me it was because I helped carry water bottles for the Greek team,” Lau said over the phone, “I saw an older man from the Greek side, he was carrying water and seemed to be having difficulty, so I helped him.”

The 28-year-old, who revealed he first touched drugs at age 12 and was in and out of rehabilitation centres multiple times, said the award means a lot to him.

“I feel very proud and happy to represent Hong Kong in the Homeless World Cup,” Lau said.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.