While half of the world is holding its breath over the two major soccer tournaments taking place right now — the European championship and Copa de America — the Guardian decided to revisit one of the game’s more compelling success stories this year. Chan Yuen-ting, the 27-year-old head coach of Hong Kong soccer team Eastern made herstory this April by becoming the first ever woman to lead a professional men’s soccer team to a title, making her a hero in her home country. Catching her breath some two months after the historic win, she reflects on the ensuing hype in an interview with the British newspaper: “I never thought this would happen,” she shared. “I am not accustomed to all the attention– the photos, the interviews, the videos. It has not been good or bad. I just wanted to do well and if I do then attention is normal. People tell me my story is positive and encourages fans to chase their dream, not to give up and the media helps me spread that message.”
Chan took on the position last December, when Eastern’s former head coach left to take a position in China and the club decided to give her a chance. At that point, she had six years of experience in Hong Kong football — first as a video analyst and later on the coaching staff of Eastern. “At the beginning [after taking the job], I regretted becoming head coach. I was scared. I didn’t think I was qualified to lead one of the top teams in Hong Kong. I lacked experience but the club, the staff and the boss kept talking to me, encouraging me and supporting me,” Chan told the Guardian. A series of victories against strong competitors offered her a confidence boost, she said, and on April 22, Eastern won its first national title in 21 years with 2-1 win at South China.
Chan has already been asked to coach a Spanish second division team, but she plans on staying with Eastern for the foreseeable future. She does not rule out coaching a national women’s football team one day, however: “But it depends on the opportunity. I would love to work in the U.S.A. or the U.K. or elsewhere in Europe. I want to keep improving and learning first. There is still so much to learn.”
Read the full story at The Guardian.