The first woman to coach in the Hong Kong Premier League takes over as coach for Eastern
Young coach will take charge of the men in Premier League
Hong Kong Premier League leaders Eastern have appointed the first female coach in Hong Kong football history, handing the reins to 27-year-old Chan Yuen-ting.
Chan who has an AFC A licence and is a coach instructor for the Hong Kong Football Association, will co-lead the team with Yeung Ching-kwong starting from tomorrow and will officially take over next Monday.
Yeung will leave to join Meizhou Kejia of China League One as assistant coach and translator after Eastern's game against I-Sky Yuen Long on Sunday.
Chan was an assistant coach at Sun Pegasus and Southern and with Hong Kong's women's futsal and 11-a-side international teams. She won three trophies with Pegasus' U18s last season
"Considering her experience and background, Eastern Sports Club president Mr. Lai Tung-kwong and executive director Mr. Leung Shou-chi both believe that she is capable of taking the post of Eastern Head Coach," said the club on their Facebook page.
Eastern are currently top of the Premier League, leading South China by a point.
Nicknamed 'Beef Balls' in Cantonese, Chan became a football fan through a teenage crush on David Beckham.
Mark Sutcliffe, chief executive of the Hong Kong Football Association, hailed the appointment as a big boost for women's soccer in Hong Kong, but said it was a wise hire by Eastern regardless of gender.
"First and foremost I think this is a good move for Eastern because from what I have seen Chan Yuen-ting is an excellent coach," he said. "I am 100% certain that this appointment is based solely on merit.
"In my opinion the best person should always get the job in any situation irrespective of age, gender, race or indeed any other personal characteristic.
"Of course it is also a big boost for girls and women’s football because it shows that there is no barrier to success in Hong Kong football. Many men coach women’s teams and there is no reason why a woman shouldn’t coach a men’s team.
"I am proud that Hong Kong is setting an example to the world in terms of equality. I am sure that she will do a good job and I wish her every success."
Female head coaches are extremely rare in the testosterone-fuelled world of men's team sports. Even at the Women's World Cup, only eight of the 24 teams' coaches were women.
French club Clermont Foot 63 appointed Helena Costa to lead their team last year, but she quit just hours after arriving, with many claiming the whole thing was a publicity stunt, though she was replaced by another woman, Corinne Diacre, who is still in charge.
The Arizona Cardinals in American football's NFL caused a stir this season when they appointed Jen Welter to their coaching staff just for pre-season, while San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon won basketball's summer league title with the team this year.