Thursday, 29 August 2013

It’s Time to get Behind our Team 全力支持香港代表隊

It’s Time to get Behind our Team

The start of the new football season is upon us and this brings with it the re-start of our campaign to qualify for the Asian Cup. The Hong Kong Senior Team is well-placed to achieve something that hasn’t been done since 1968 – to qualify for the finals to be held in Australia in 2015. After two matches Hong Kong is second in the group of four which also includes the UAE, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. We have four more matches including home games against the UAE in October and Uzbekistan in November and away games against the UAE also in November and Vietnam next March.

Coach KIM and his team are working hard to prepare for these important matches and the HKFA is doing what it can to give them the support they need. We have arranged two friendly matches to help with these preparations and the team is travelling to Myanmar on 6th September. On Tuesday 10th September we play against Singapore at the Mong Kok Stadium. This will be the last opportunity to cheer on the team and show support before the competitive action starts in October. When Hong Kong beat Vietnam earlier this year the full-house and fervent support created an electric atmosphere and really gave the players a boost.

Winning is a habit and if we get positive results against Myanmar and Singapore it will generate momentum to carry forward into the Asian Cup qualifiers. So on behalf of the players, the coaches, myself and indeed the whole of the HKFA, please come and support Hong Kong on 10th September.

The vast majority of fans behaved in an exemplary manner when Hong Kong played against the Philippines but a small minority let the majority down by disrespecting the visiting team, fans and national anthem. Although there was a degree of provocation as well as a political under-current, we cannot condone such behavior. The HKFA is still under investigation by FIFA for the incidents surrounding that match and we face the possibility of sanctions. It is crucial therefore that at the Singapore match we prove that Hong Kong people are respectful, friendly and hospitable. Let’s have a great time supporting our team but at the same time let’s show respect to our visitors.     








  1. Dear Mr. Sutcliffe,
    First of all, I appreciate your work. I have been reading your blogs since it was first published, though, there's something I cannot get clear.

    1. How project phoenix help in the development of youth football training?
    2. Do you think Hong Kong have enough qualified football coaches and training infrastructure now? Or will Hong Kong have them enough?
    3. Would you find it hard to appreciate HK teenage footballers to turn into professionals, considering HK football is not well developed and they have other working choices?

    Looking forward to your reply and hope your work would come out as a success!

    Best wishes,

  2. Dear Dave,
    Thank you for your interest and support. In answer to your questions:
    1. Youth Development is a fundamental part of Project Phoenix. Let me give you just two examples:
    a) a new Technical Director has been appointed and between us we have devised a new Football Development Plan including a defined style and system of play, a National Curriculum and age-related training programmes including the introduction of a small-sided games approach. All of these initiatives are being rolled out now and will result in a systematic and coordinated approach to youth development. We are looking to create systems where no one slipo\s through the net and there are pathwways to the top for talented players.
    b) we have appointed a Grassroots Football Manager, Women's Football Manager and Futsal Manager all of whom have a brief to develop youth players. They are working within the new development plan and trying to coordinate things with schools, commercial soccer schools, amateur clubs etc.
    So in terms of youth development we are trying to get to asituation where players can have had 10,000 hours of purposeful practice by the time they are 18. This is a standard recognised as being necessary to achieve world-class standard. As you will appreciate, there are many challenges to overcome in Hong Kong including the availability of venues, changing 'old' attitudes etc. The youth of today are the players of the future.
    2. No, there are definitely not enough qualified coaches at the moment. We have also appointed a Coach Education Manager who is devising courses to fit into our new Development Plan. The target is to increasethe number of coaches from around 600 now to 2,000 in the next 5 years. There will also be a focus on quality as well as quantity. We have also stated our intention to establish an independent Football Coaches Association.
    3. I fully appreciate that football is not an attractive career at the moment in Hong Kong. Our strategy also includesapproaches to changing that by putting more emphasis on player welfare so for example starting a Professional Footballers Association. The big issue to tackle is the perception that in order to follow an academic route, you need to give up playing football. In other countries this is done by linking football academies to educational institutions, by offering football scholarships at Universities etc. We will try and replicate some of these initiatives over here.
    Dave you ask some very pertinent questions and I hope my answers show that we are aware of the issues and trying to address them.

  3. Dear Mr. Sutcliffe,

    Yesterday in the news AFC said all 4 Hong Kong football grounds failed their inspection in some ways.

    1. Hong Kong Stadium: Grass is not good.
    2. Mongkok Stadium: Lacks commentary booths for live broadcasts.
    3. Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground: Lighting not good enough for night matches.
    4. Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground: Capacity too low. Minimum 5,000 required.

    I believe you will raise these issues with LCSD. But moreover, you should also ask LCSD to consider implementing Goal Line Technology in these sports grounds as well. It is already a standard fixture at the EPL and will be used in next summer's World Cup in Brazil. We don't want to keep playing catch-up. We want to be as current as possible. HKFA has the responsibility to make this suggestion to LCSD, which apparently has no initiative whatsoever.



  4. Dear Allan,
    Thanks for your comment.
    I agree that the AFC highlighted some deficiencies in the facilities. We knew that would happen and to some extent that was the purpose of the visit to identify areas for improvement not just in facilities but with the FA, the League and the Clubs. It is also fair to point out that the AFC was very complimentary about other aspects of the stadiums. Highlighting the weaknesses in this way is not really a balanced perspective. We are working with LCSD to improve the facilities and none of the problems they identify are insuperable.
    Regarding goal-line technology, FIFA has made the introduction of this voluntary and up to each Member Association. We have looked at the systems currently on the market and the cost of installing the technology is circa HK$2.5m per ground. I think there are higher priorities to spend this money on right now and the reality is that we will leave it a little while until the price comes down.

  5. Will the Asian Cup home matches against Uzbekistan and UAE be held at Hong Kong Stadium or Mongkok Stadium?

    1. Dear Allan,
      Actually we have not made a final decision. My recommendation will be to play the October match against the UAE at the Mong Kok Stadium where hopefully we will get a full house and a great atmosphere.
      After that we will review the situation because if we are still well-placed in the group there will be more interest for the Uzbekistan match in November and Mong Kok might be too small to cater for the demand.
      It is a difficult choice because Mong Kok may get too small and yet the Hong Kong Stadium is so large that unless there is a big crowd the atmosphere can be a bit muted.

  6. Dear Mark,

    I have always been a great fans of local soccer for over 40 years, but I really can't get myself involved in the local matches today, simply I could hardly recognize and know who are playing on the field, not even only their names - neither the players nor the referees! It absolutely kills my passions for watching the local football matches; perhaps delivery of a page or two of sheets of team line-up with their details, such as jersey number, names and experiences etc., for those audiences who enter the stadiums (photo-copy is already good enough).


  7. Dear Paul,
    Thank you for the comment and suggestions. I quite agree that our footballers need to have a higher profile. We need role models and we need the fans to care about the players and to some extent idolise them as they do in other countries.
    The recent AFC inspection referred to the need for our Clubs to have 'match-day' programmes if they want to qualify for the AFC Champions League. We will make that part of the criteria for the Premier League next season.
    In the meantime we will encourage our Clubs to provide more information.
    The FA is doing its bit to raise the profile of players by launching an on-line Fantasy Football game and in a few weeks we will launch a new website with pages devoted to the 1st Division which will higghlight nplayers and their statistics.
    I hope that we can help to re-kindle your passion for the local game.

  8. Dear Mark,
    Please use Mongkok Stadium in the coming competition, the atmosphere is far better than Hong Kong Stadium, even add ticket fee the fans won't mind!

  9. Dear Mark,
    As a local football fans, I am happy that the HKFA has find a right person to be the CEO as everything of the project phoenix is going on a right track nowadays, especially the national team has had a great result in the AFC Asian Cup qualification stage.
    I have heard that the HKFA are planning to use the Hong Kong stadium instead of the Mong Kok stadium for the next two home matches recently which has become our local football fans' concern with the following points.
    First, for the atmosphere of the match, there is a huge difference between HKS and MKS. It may need to have twenty thousand audiences in HKS in order to have the same atmosphere created by four thousand audiences in MKS. If there is a huge difference, why don't we use the Mong Kok Stadium.
    Second, there is no doubt that the next home match will be a full house if it is held in MKS. If the HKFA would like to earn more money, you can increase the price of ticket to like $150. I think the football fans would not mind paying more money to watch the match in a stadium with better atmosphere.
    Third, some of the football fans have asked mckee, waiho and kim that which stadium do they like. The answer is the Mong Kok Stadium as the area of MKS is smaller which is better for them to defense and execute their tactics.
    I understand that HKFA would like to use this chance to increase their income, but I think the result of the national team should be overtopped.
    See you in Australia in 2015.

    Best wishes,

  10. Dear Mark:
    pls arrange hk team play uae in the mong kok stadium, we are not mind to pay $150 or $200 to increase the income from the tickets sales, there are much much difference between mks and hks, i dun think that the income from the hks and mks will have much difference finally because i think the attendance of the hks maybe more than mks serveral thousand finally, and i think most of the hk fans also agree to play at mks, if hkfa really decide to play at the hks , then i will make the supporters disappointed on the HKFA!!!!!!

  11. Dear Fung Chat, Ernest and Andy,
    I am writing this collective reply to the three comments above about the venue for our Internatrional matches against the UAE and Uzbekistan.
    The Board has decided to play these games in the Hong Kong Stadium. In making this decision a number of factors were taken into account. We looked at what would give us the best chance of a positive result, the likely crowd size, the views of the Head Coach, public opinion, commercial considerations etc etc. It was not an easy decision and was certainly not taken on commercial considerations alone (as some people have suggested). Indeed we are keeping the ticket prices the same at HK$100 and HK$30 for concessions. International matches should be played in the National Stadium and the hope is that we will get a crowd big enough to justify the decision. When we played against Vietnam at Mong Kok we had a full house with a few hundred people locked out and therefore disappointed. We want everybody to have a chance to watch the team and we want to build up the size of the crowd over time. Mong Kok is just too small although I accept that there is a great atmosphere there when it is full and that unless we are really successful we are not likely to fill the HK Stadium for a while. It's a dilema and I suspect that what ever decision we take we will be criticised.
    The opinion of the Head Coach was very important and he is happy to play at the HK Stadium. Without giving away any secrets, we will be doing what we can within the laws and spirit of the game to improve our chances of success.
    So whilst I know that this decision will not be universally popular I hope that people will accept that it has been taken with the best of i9ntentions. More importantly I hope that people come along and support the team. A few good results will give us a really good chance of qualifying for the finals.