Championship soccer coach urges government to rethink Kitchee Centre removal
Eastern Football Club’s Chan Yuen-ting called for the state-of-the-art centre to remain after being awarded Bronze Bauhinia Star
While being awarded one of the city’s top honours, Hong Kong’s first ever female soccer coach to lead a pro-league championship team urged the government to reverse its decision to relocate a major training centre.
Eastern Football Club coach Chan Yuen-ting was one of 60 people awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star on Saturday, making her the second sporting figure to ever receive the prestigious government prize. Olympic gold windsurfing medallist Lee Lai-shan received the award in 2003.
Speaking on the sidelines of yesterday’s ceremony at Government House, Chan said the medal was “positive” recognition of the sports industry as a whole, but she hoped for more support.
“We’ll need the government’s continued assistance for soccer to flourish in Hong Kong,” she said.
“I really hope the government can save Kitchee Centre. It’s not only a training ground, but also a milestone for the city’s soccer development.”
The state-of-the-art HK$84 million centre, built on 15,000 square metres of land in Sha Tin, opened just last year and has two full-sized soccer pitches.
Earlier this month, however, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying confirmed plans to take back the Kitchee Centre’s land to make way for a new public housing development.
He insisted the land would remain untouched until they found an alternative site for the centre.
The annual Bronze Bauhinia award, in its 19th year, is one of 11 categories under the 2016 Honours List. Some 310 recipients were handpicked by Leung and a committee for their contributions to the city and public service.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and world-renowned scientist Professor Tsui Lap-chee were among seven people awarded the city’s top honour, the Grand Bauhinia Medal.
Canto-pop singer, actor and film producer Andy Lau Tak-wah, who was notably absent from the ceremony, received a Bronze Bauhinia Medal for his contribution to the entertainment industry and his dedication to promoting sports for the disabled.
Other recipients included firefighters Thomas Cheung, 30, and Samuel Hui Chi-kit, 37, who were killed battling the mini-storage facility blaze in Ngau Tau Kok in June. They were awarded posthumous gold medals for bravery.
Vincent Tang Peng-seng and Chan Ho-fung of the Government Flying Service, were awarded bronze medals for bravery after rescuing a 14 men from a sinking vessel during a typhoon last year.
Tang, who recalled the waves being up to six storeys high during the rescue, said the most important thing was that they were able to help those in need.
“This award is a recognition not only for me, but for the all uniformed groups, be it the GFS, fire services or police. For me, it’s another encouragement to perform better,” he said.