Report comes up with concrete steps

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 May, 2010, 12:00am

It's 133 pages long - with another 96 pages of appendices - and is grandiosely, if not quite long-windedly, titled: Football Development in Hong Kong. 'We are Hong Kong' - Dare to Dream.

The consultancy report took 10 months to complete and was undertaken by the Scott Wilson Group. They talked to scores of people, among them owners of clubs, the Hong Kong Football Association, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, Legco members, and the media.

They also spoke to officials from the Chinese Football Association, the Japan Football Association, the Football Association of Singapore, and the Singapore Sports Council.

They made 29 site visits in Hong Kong, ranging from the Aberdeen Sports Ground to Yuen Long Stadium, looking at natural turf pitches to artificial ones.

They identified eight grounds which could become home grounds for clubs in a future professional league.

They looked at the feasibility of setting up a Hong Kong national football training centre, basing their proposal on case studies of similar national centres in South Korea, France and Italy, as well as those at Everton, Liverpool, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

They came up with a vision for the local game which, in a timely and effective way, could transform football within a five or 10-year timescale.

The vision calls for:

An independent, strong, financially secure and well-managed governing body that provides strategic leadership and direction and works with stakeholders to deliver the vision for football and transform the sport into a world-class project.

Appropriate, proportional and co-ordinated support from the government at all levels to help to bring about the step change necessary.

Successful and professional Hong Kong national teams with improved Fifa rankings and performances backed up by world-class training facilities and support services.

A network of strategically located, good-quality facilities, both grass and synthetic, to cater for football participation (professional and amateur), and enhanced facilities and infrastructure including a new football training centre.

A professional and independent league utilising 'home' venues that generate loyal and increasing support with the ultimate aim of having a team capable of playing in the China league.

Amateur leagues and clubs with better standards of play, feeding directly into the professional level.

A focus on youth development with sufficient resources to deliver improved opportunities for people to progress from beginner to elite performer, backed up by rigorous systems, resources and facilities for talent identification and development.

Football development programmes co-ordinated across all sectors, including schools and club links that concentrate on quality and quantity.

Significantly improved standards of coaching, coach education, officiating and access to expertise.

A cultural shift where the professional status is enhanced to encourage people to pursue a career in football.