I can’t believe that another ‘Gregorian’ year is nearly over and I head back to the UK tonight to spend Christmas and New Year with my family.
2015 has been a busy and successful year at the HKFA. Some of the highlights have been:
· Securing an additional five-year funding programme from the Government
· Entering into a new five-year partnership with the HK Jockey Club for football development
· Moving a step closer to the construction of the Football Training Centre by having the capital and land approved by the Jockey Club and the Government respectively
· Being awarded the ‘Developing’ Member Association of the year award by the AFC
Of course the performance of the Hong Kong Representative Team in 2015 has been nothing short of amazing. Even the most optimistic person could not have predicted that we would finish the year in second place in the group. The two nil, nil draws against neighbours and rivals China were hard to watch but magnificent spectacles. The passion of the Coach and team was equaled by that of the crowd and will live long in the memory. We fully deserve our current FIFA ranking of 137 which is the highest it has been since 2007.
I would like to thank my colleagues, the Board, our partners and all football stakeholders for their help and support in 2015. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to lead the organization. It will be difficult to match the 2015 success in 2016 but I will do my best and I know everyone else will too. I will do everything possible to continue the enhancement and development of Hong Kong football. I am of the opinion that 2015 marks the turnaround in the fortunes of Hong Kong football. Of course things are not perfect and there is room for a lot of improvement. At least now we have the resources and strategy to move forward positively.
On the other hand 2015 has been a disaster for FIFA! Let’s hope that 2016 is more fortuitous for our Governing Body; let’s face it, it can’t be any worse. We are due to get a new President in February and a reform programme has already been drawn up. I hope that FIFA will stop imploding and provide the leadership that the World’s most popular sport deserves.
Christmas is a joyous time but also a time to reflect that not everyone enjoys such good fortune. There are a lot of people in the World who are suffering right now and my heart goes out to them; I know how lucky I am. Closer to home there are tragedies too and I am shocked and saddened by the recent traffic accident that has torn apart the life of one of our women’s representative team players, Gigi. I know that no words will bring comfort or ease the pain but everyone at the HKFA is thinking about all of those who have been affected. We will help in any way we can.
It just remains for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Mark Sutcliffe, December 2015