A few months ago I wrote a blog stating that I thought girls and women’s football in Hong Kong had turned the corner. We have had another example this week and many congratulations go to Hong Kong Women’s Representative Team player Wai Ki for getting a professional contract with Brisbane Roar in the Australian W – League. This is a fantastic achievement and I wish her well. Over the last few years I have taken pride in watching her and others in her cohort developing from players with enthusiasm and potential into really talented footballers. In that blog I highlighted how we had dominated the match against Singapore. Wai Ki was brilliant that day. I am so pleased that the girls and women are doing so well because their passion for the game is as intense as any male, as is their dedication and hard work.
This success is all the more remarkable when you consider that it’s only about five years ago that the HKFA took over the responsibility for girls and women’s football. We now spend many millions of dollars on developing this side of the game. To some people it’s not important but to me it is fundamental. Girls and women have just as much right as boys and men to play football and they derive an equal amount of benefit and pleasure from playing. Girls and women’s football is the fastest growing sport in the world and Hong Kong is at the forefront of this change. The phenomenal success of Coach Chan Yuen Ting and Referee Gigi Law are just two examples of Hong Kong’s preeminence.
Most of the credit for this transformation must go to our Women’s Football Manager, Betty Wong. She has been involved in football for a long time and I was delighted when she decided to join us fulltime in May 2013. Since then she has established girls youth leagues, a women’s league and HKRTs at U12, U14, U16, U18 as well as further enhancing the senior women’s team. Betty has done an amazing job and we are lucky to have her.
I hope that Wai Ki is the first of many ‘exports’ to professional women’s leagues because she will undoubtedly develop even more by training and playing at a higher level. This can only be good for us moving forward. It will not be easy for her either personally or professionally and we should give her as much support as possible.
When I eventually look back on my time in Hong Kong I know that the growth of the women’s game, and the improvements we have made, will be one of the things that gives me most satisfaction. Good luck Wai KI, do yourself and Hong Kong proud.
Mark Sutcliffe, CEO September 2017