Where EAST meets the Northwest
FOOTBALL FIRST. Eastern Sports Club head coach Chan Yuen-ting, center,
celebrates with her players after winning the Hong Kong Premier League title in
Hong Kong. At age 27, Chan is younger than several of the players she coaches at
Eastern Sports Club, yet she has already secured a unique place for herself in
soccer history by becoming the first woman to lead a menís team to a
top-division national championship. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
From The Asian Reporter, V26, #10 (May 16, 2016), page 4.
Female coach leads champion menís team in Hong Kong
HONG KONG (AP) ó At age 27, Chan Yuen-ting is younger than several of the
players she coaches at Eastern Sports Club, yet she has already secured a unique
place for herself in soccer history by becoming the first woman to lead a menís
team to a top-division national championship.
Chan took charge at Eastern in December, with the club not having won the
Hong Kong league for 21 years, and in April the team clinched that elusive title
and made their female coach the talk of the town.
"Iím really lucky," Chan said to SNTV. "Now I make history and then no one
think that will happen in Hong Kong. I have to say thanks to the club that they
trust me, give me support, and also player encourage me a lot this season."
Chan had impediments in her path: a family that was skeptical of her career
choice, conservative views about womenís involvement in menís sports, and her
own anxieties about whether she could command authority with players who were
often verbally ó and occasionally physically ó aggressive.
"When I was like, maybe, 13 years old, and I wanted to play football, my
family didnít allow it, because in Chinese culture, girls or woman shouldnít
play football, you should go to dance or you go to draw something, something
like this," Chan said.
A couple of years after that knockback by her family, Chan forged her
motherís signature on a form to apply for a summer training program and joined
her local club at Sha Tin.
Though her path into the sport, and her subsequent climb to the top of the
game in Hong Kong, was littered with hurdles, her initial inspiration to get
involved in soccer was a common one for teenage girls at the time ó a love for
And her ardor and respect for the former Manchester United and England great
has not dimmed.
"Why I play football is because I love David Beckham," Chan said. "Yeah,
every time I want to quiz something, I watch Beckhamís match video and just try
to get some message or positive energy, messages from him."
Easternís title win gives it a shot at next yearís Asian Champions League,
and club bosses have promised to invest in the squad to pursue further success
in 2017, but Chan has ambitions beyond Hong Kong.
"I want to go to another country, maybe just as an assistant coach to get
more knowledge," Chan said.
"Hong Kong football level is not very high compared with like Japan, Korea,
or even we go other country U.K., U.S., so if I have chance I want to go out.
And I want to learn something and then bring something to Hong Kong football."
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