Cover Mui Thomas (Photo: Affa Chan/Tatler Hong Kong)

Mui Thomas was born with a rare skin condition known as Harlequin Ichthyosis. She shares seven pieces of wisdom from her time as a sports referee

At 29, Mui Thomas is one of 20 known people worldwide diagnosed with harlequin ichthyosis, a rare congenital skin condition which affects an estimated one in every 300,000 people. She is at risk from brittle bones and sun exposure, yet after discovering at school that sport gave her an opportunity “to fit in”, she became the first person with the disorder to qualify as a rugby referee. A familiar face on pitches throughout Hong Kong, she discusses how sport’s positive influence on her life and the valuable lessons she’s learnt from her time as a referee.

“I started out by helping at rugby clubs—both at club level and at the Hong Kong Rugby Club. It wasn’t long before I wanted something more and refereeing was suggested,” she says, adding: “The rest is history.” Mui shares her life lessons below:

Lesson 1:

You are not going be perfect all the time—and that’s OK.

Lesson 2:

Everyone messes up and you won’t please everyone all the time. That’s OK, no matter how hard it is to accept.

Lesson 3: 

There is an issue if you have nothing to review. I hate reviewing myself but it’s something I need to work on. Be honest with yourself and with others, no matter how hard it is.

Lesson 4:

Only stay in the game if you are enjoying it. Anything can become dull if you no longer have passion for the activity or the lifestyle.

Lesson 5:

Find your tribe and feel safe within that. Only when you feel safe and loved can you succeed.

Lesson 6:

Discipline: this is hard for all of us. It took a lot of self-discipline to sit down and write these sporting lessons because I don’t do well with sitting down and thinking. Discipline gets you a long way.

Lesson 7:

Have respect for others. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory.

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