Chan Yuen, first woman coach to win a pro mens football title
Chan Yuen-ting has gone down in history, winning the Hong Kong Premier league with Eastern and becoming the first female coach to win a pro mens top flight football title.
Congratulations coach! You’ve just won the Hong Kong Premier league title with Eastern, becoming the first female coach to win a man’s title, what’s happened since?
So much. Everybody has been congratulating me and the club are delighted because the last time we won the title was 20 years ago. The atmosphere has been incredible. The players have been behind me since the start and in the celebrations they’ve been coming up to me to say how grateful they are. They’ve been really professional with me. We lost several key players over the season, but we kept working hard and we won the title.
Could your success mark a watershed for women coaches?
I think I can be a good example for women coaches. There are lots of women who love this sport, and want to work professionally in the game, in the men’s game too. What I’ve done in Hong Kong is possible in other countries. It often depends on the directors of the clubs. In those terms Hong Kong is a great place. There’s no discrimination between men and women, not even when coaching a mens team as a woman. When they chose me to coach Eastern I got a lot of support and affection from the people.
Why is the mens game so closed to women?
It shouldn’t be like this. I’d advise women coaches to follow their dreams and fight for what they want to do, in this case in football. In lots of other countries it’s possible to go a long way. It just needs hard work and good luck, nothing more.
But you can’t deny it’s been tough to get where you are…
When I started as a coach my parents didn’t want me to be one. They wanted me to devote myself exclusively to University. They thought I wouldn’t have much of a future, that I’d have few opportunities. I told them I was living my dream and after two or three years they started to support me, as they still do. I celebrated the title with them because nobody knows better than them how much it means to me to achieve it. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d win, in fact I didn’t even think I’d be first team coach this season.
What’s your footballing philosophy? Are you more Mourinho or Guardiola?
To answer that first I’d need to know what kind of players I had, if they are one kind or another. I like playing a 4-2-3-1. You can take good things from both Mourinho and Guardiola. I like Guardiola for his possession based game during his time at Barcelona, moving the ball fast from side to side. But I also appreciate Mourinho’s defensive abilities and the effectiveness of his counter-attacks.
Do you follow the Spanish Liga?
Of course. LaLiga is very popular. It’s got enthralling football. What’s more there are a number of Spaniards playing in our league, and that’s given us a similar style. Teams in Europe have copied the Spanish style and that’s happened here as well.
So, what next? What does the future hold for you?
We’ve got a great challenge with the Asian Champions League next year, which we have to prepare properly for. I’d also like to travel to Spain to see how Madrid, Barça and Atlético work. Hopefully!
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