Though small in landmass, Hong Kong is historically intertwined with women’s football being one of game’s pioneers in the globe’s biggest confederation. Their status in the continental arena may have dimmed in recent years, but The Hong Kong Football Association is putting in place the building blocks for future growth of the women’s game.
As part of that commitment, Saturday 6 July witnessed eager young female footballers taking part in the ‘Let’s Kick for Fun’ Festival, an event organised by the HKFA and funded by FIFA with the aim of promoting girls’ football in Hong Kong.
Participants had the opportunity to take part in fun games and small-sided matches, all the while learning the basics of football, most notably via the experienced guidance of Chan Shuk Chi, head coach of the Hong Kong women’s national team.
The HKFA have recently committed extra resources to the management and growth of women’s football with the festival just one of many initiatives in that regard, which include the appointment of the first women’s football manager.
“Girls and Women’s football is a particular priority for the HKFA under Project Phoenix,” stated Mark Sutcliffe, Chief Executive Officer of The Hong Kong Football Association. “We have now fully integrated the Women’s Football Association into the HKFA and there are a number of ongoing initiatives to promote this important part of the sport.
“This Festival is indicative of our desire to get more girls and women playing football at all levels. FIFA has given a priority to promoting women’s football worldwide and under Project Phoenix the HKFA also shares the same mission and vision.”
FIFA supports the development of football for girls and women and is committed to creating opportunities for female players, coaches, referees and officials to become actively involved in the game. Now with some 30 million participants worldwide, the women’s game at grassroots level has been boosted in recent years by FIFA’s Live Your Goals programme, while Member Associations can receive support from the world governing body across a variety of areas including technical expertise, teaching and promotional material to football equipment and financial assistance.
“FIFA is happy to support the new initiatives taken by the Hong Kong Football Association on Women’s Football Development,” said Thierry Regenass, FIFA’s Director of Member Associations and Development.
“Hong Kong is one of the pioneer countries in the women’s game and this year the Association has taken decisive steps to include more girls and women by hiring a female coach for the women’s national team and a full time women’s football development manager, as well as initiating a grassroots programme for girls.”
A return to Hong Kong’s glory days when the national team was a regular feature at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup might be some way off just yet. Nevertheless, the ancient Chinese quote ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’ seems apt in describing what can be achieved in football with a long term development plan in place.