Words by: Ahmad Shafiq
2016 has been a year for footballing underdogs. Now history has been made in Hong Kong, as for the first time, a female manager has led a men’s professional football team to the nation’s top-flight championship. She is currently the head coach at Eastern Athletic Association or Eastern AA. Initially, eyebrows were raised at the appointment of Chan, when she became the first woman to manage in the Hong Kong Premier League. Not only was she the first woman, she was appointed at the remarkable age of only 27. Taking the job only last December, she has produced some amazing results along the way, notching up 12 wins, 2 draws and a loss. With only one game remaining in the Hong Kong Premier League its safe to say that the party has already begun for Eastern AA. An incredible feat for Chan, who started as a data analyst for Hong Kong Pegasus FC (formerly known as TSW Pegasus FC).
Prior to joining Eastern:
- she worked as an assistant manager at fellow Hong Kong Premier League club Pegasus FC and Southern District FC
- She also held coaching roles with the national Hong Kong women’s team.
- She plays in a non-professional club for her hometown in Sha Tin.
- She is one of the few Hong Kong coaches who has an AFC coaching A license, awarded in 2013.
- She also led Sun Pegasus to the U-18 Youth League championship last season.
With all these honours it’s no doubt she was the best fit to succeed Yeung Ching-kwong last December. 27-year-old Chan didn’t need much adapting as she captured the Hong Kong Senior Challenge Shield just a month after taking the reins at Eastern.
Nicknamed ‘Beef Ball’ in Cantonese, Chan’s passion for football was inspired by David Beckham. “I started learning about football in secondary school and all because of David Beckham,” she said.
Eastern AA now has a stiff competition ahead of them. Being champions of Hong Kong they have already secured a qualifying spot for the AFC Champions League. Therefore Chan will surely set her sights on much bigger challenges for the small club in the far east. Although Chan has expressed interest in pursuing her career in a more football culture country, she still has time in her contract to bring Eastern AA to new heights.
Chan is one of the few women in the world taking control of a men’s professional football team, with Corinne Diacre who manages Clermont Foot 63 in France’s Ligue 2 being the most reputable one.
Currently Chan is being assessed by the Guinness World Records for her achievements. She is the first woman coach in Asia and now she’s in the record books! This is a proud moment for world football.