Tomorrow (July 5) Aussie defender Josh Mitchell joins his new teammates at Hong Kong club Eastern FC, who won the HK Premier League in April. The fact that the winning coach was 27 was worthy of note in itself but Chan Yuen-ting is not only one of the youngest professional coaches around, she is the first female to win the top-flight professional title in men's football.
She took the job in December after the boss departed for a job in China. As the only member of the coaching staff with a licence from the Asian Football Confederation, she was given the job. Four months later, she was lifting the trophy.
Lately she's been in France watching the European Championships but is still coming to terms with events of just a few weeks ago when her name hit headlines all around the world.
“I never thought that would happen to myself," Chan said. "Anyway, I should not concentrate on this kind of attention. I have to do my job well as I can as a coach and concentrate on my team and coaching.”
She admits she was nervous about the appointment and asked herself whether she was ready for the pressure but a 6-1 away win in her opening game helped calm her and the players down.
After that, Eastern did not look back and a 2-1 victory over closest rivals South China provided real confidence that the team could win a first title for 21 years. It was clinched with another win against the same team in April.
“When it all ended, it was strange and I felt like I was dreaming. I could not smile and the other staff were telling me to smile. It was not until later that I realised what we had achieved.”
Next on the agenda is taking a further pro licence course in December and a chance at the 2017 AFC Champions League. “I would like to go the Champions League with my team Eastern in the coming season. Bringing a team to play in that competition is the dream of a lot of local coaches and this will also be my new challenge.”
One day though, Chan would like to head further afield and perhaps coach in the UK, the United States or elsewhere in Asia. Australia is also not out of the question.
“It all depends on the opportunity,” Chan said. “I know that Australian football is well-organised. The development of Australian football is systematic.”
She also points out that the language would be an issue in Australia, as opposed to other possible destinations such as Korea Republic and Japan.
The exploits of Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC in the 2016 AFC Champions League when both teams made it to the knockout stage of the tournament were also noticed by Chan. “Their results showed that the A-League is going very well.”
Working with men or women would not be a problem as the Matildas have consistently demonstrated the strength of the female game down under.
“They perform quite well in World Cups and show that the local competition level is high.”
A move to Australia could be interesting for all parties. Chan is a young, hungry and hard-working coach with a fierce desire to improve and a league title under her belt already.