Record-making Eastern coach looks ahead to HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens


Words: Sohee Kim

Chan Yuen-ting made history last month when her Eastern side were crowned champions of the Hong Kong Premier League.

The success saw Chan become the first-ever female coach to have led a professional men’s team to a top-flight championship.

Her next challenge is at the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens, where she will become the first-ever female coach at the tournament. In an exclusive interview, she tells us about her expectations and preparations for the competition.

When did your career in football start?

Around two years ago, I took my Masters at Chinese University which was in Sports Management and Health Sciences.

How did you become the coach of Eastern?

Last December, the former coach left because he took an offer from China, so at that moment the club wanted to appoint one of the existing coaches from the club to replace him because we didn’t want to make too many changes during the season. And one of the other reasons is that I obtained the AFC A-Licence in 2013, so that’s why they appointed me as the coach.

How have the training sessions been ahead of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens?

We actually just started training for the Soccer Sevens around May 10, as we had a match the weekend before. For me, it was quite an interesting experience. I was coaching on a really big pitch with no offsides, so we have been thinking about the system and the formations. We have a mix of local and foreign players involved in the training. We also had a friendly match with the U-23 Hong Kong team. Our team is getting better, so I hope we can have a good performance at the Soccer Sevens.

Eastern will play Wellington Phoenix, Stoke City and Yau Yee Select in the group stage, who are you most excited to play against?

I think Stoke City will be a strong team. I think the physical fitness level is very high in the clubs from overseas, like England. Also what I know from my own experience is that they normally send some younger players, so they are very energetic and the speed of the game will be very fast which makes the one against one situations very difficult. We have to beware of all counterattacks and one against one situations when we play and attack.

What are your thoughts ahead of the tournament?

I think it will be a very exciting competition. I think it will be a good opportunity for us to play against other countries, especially for next season as we have to play a lot of Asian teams, so I hope that my players can have a good experience and also try to do their best and have a good attitude to play against all the teams.

What are your plans after the tournament?

I’m going to travel with my family because after the Soccer Sevens it will be off season for around four to five weeks. Off the pitch, I will be preparing for the next season and have some friendly matches for training and to build up the team.