The Sports Locker

A Hidden First

[By Azri Firman Bin Aqil]

By the time this article is out, Leicester may have sealed the English Premier League title. However, there was a significant event that happened quite recently involving a league title. Now, for those who see this link whenever this article is shared may notice a picture of a woman. But why should this be mentioned?

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Image credit: Timeout Hong Kong

During the pre-show of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup match on Fox Sports between South China of Hong Kong and Yangon United of Myanmar, one of the pundits mentioned that the Hong Kong Premier League was won by South China’s rivals, Eastern Sports Club.

You may ask, how is that related to this woman? The answer is because she is the manager of Eastern Sports Club. Yes, you heard that right – for the first time in world football history, a woman has won a major domestic league.

Chan Yuen-ting took over Eastern when her predecessor, Yeung Ching-Kwong resigned and took over another club. But how did she manage to get such a top job position? For Chan, it was a long rocky road for her to get this far.

Initially, she became interested in football thanks to her admiration for a certain David Beckham. Upon declaring her intention to get into football, her family wasn’t happy, as they didn’t see it as a stable job for someone like Chan. Despite her family’s protests, she got a job at TSW Pegasus FC as a part-time data analyst. It was after watching a few of her club’s matches that her family became supportive of her. Even so, she contemplated to go into other ventures when every club she went to in the past seemed to be disbanded.

Chan got her big break when she was appointed as Eastern’s head manager right before Christmas of last year. Even after that, she still had to deal with problems, as she and the players weren’t on the same wavelength due to the fact that Chan herself hasn’t played a minute of football. She did eventually overcome the communication problem by keeping an open mind, listening to the players themselves and her assistants.

Eventually, winning 8 out of the 10 league matches she managed when she took over earned them the Hong Kong Premier League title, and subsequently a direct entry in the group stages of Asia’s biggest club tournament, the AFC Champions League.

Chan doesn’t rule out seeking other jobs that match her ambitions and exposure to other football cultures. The Champions League can be the first step to assess which country fits her criteria. There’s a chance that all eyes will be on Chan and her Eastern Sports Club team once the 2017 AFC Champions League kicks off (that is, if she does stay on). She hopes that what she had achieved can inspire others to pursue their dreams.

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