Thursday, 2 April 2015

HKRT Olympic Qualifiers 香港代表隊在2016奧運外圍賽的表現

HKRT Olympic Qualifiers

Firstly I would like to acknowledge that the results of the Hong Kong U22 team in the recent Olympic qualifying tournament were disappointing; there is no doubt about that. Coach KIM to his credit has already apologized for the performance.


I have met with KIM today and asked for a detailed report on the competition by the end of next week. I will review the situation once I am in possession of all the facts. I will reserve some judgement on the Olympic qualifiers until I have had chance to digest the detailed report but I would like to make some initial observations.

The Coach and some of the players have mentioned that the lack of a training camp was a contributory factor in the poor performance and this seems to have been picked up by the media. I am not dismissing this completely because I appreciate the need for teams to bond and to play together to develop an understanding on the pitch. My view however is that this is more of an excuse than a reason. If anyone thinks that simply getting the team together for a few days would make the difference between losing three games and winning them, then they are just deluding themselves. If only it was that easy to solve. Unfortunately there are some more fundamental problems to address.

Before I describe these problems, I would like to address the question of money. Let’s be clear, funding was not the main reason why there was no overseas training camp. In recent years the money spent by the Technical Department on representative team training and competition has increased dramatically and quite rightly so. Next year it is set to increase even further. This year has been extraordinarily busy for our representative teams in that there has been an Asian Games, the East Asian Games and other tournaments, competitions and one off matches. This has coincided with the start of the Premier League. The start of the season was delayed and there have been other gaps in fixtures created by the representative team matches. Many of these have been outside the FIFA International match days. There is a limit as to how often the HKFA can stop the league whilst being fair to the clubs and maintaining the integrity and public interest in the League. The issue was not about money but about the availability of players. The HKFA has to balance often conflicting objectives and reach compromises. These are not always understood by everyone especially if they are coming from one perspective without the benefit of seeing the whole picture.

So what are these more fundamental issues.

Firstly anyone who knows anything about football knows that it takes at least 10 years to train somebody to be good enough to play international football. The individuals playing in this tournament were mostly born in 1993. The period of time most critical to their development was arguably when they were between 10 and 20 i.e. 2003 to 2013. I wasn’t here then but I understand from talking to people who were, that there was very little football development at that time. Basically the system failed this cohort of players and I attach no blame to the players whatsoever. They are passionate about football and try their best whenever they play for Hong Kong. The point is that the lack of systematic coaching, training and competitive opportunity during their formative years has left them significantly behind players from other countries in terms of technique, physicality and tactical awareness. It is impossible to make up that gap overnight. As someone who has been involved in sports development for 35 years, believe me, no overseas training camp is going to overcome these long term deficiencies.

Another factor that needs to be considered is how frequently and intensely this group of players train and play now. Young local players in Hong Kong do not play often enough for their clubs or train as intensely as they should. Most Premier League Clubs have their full quota of foreign players (6 in the squad, 4 on the pitch at any one time). In addition to that many clubs have players deemed to be local because they have a permanent ID card but they are not eligible to play for Hong Kong because they don’t have a Hong Kong passport. So there are actually very few eligible players playing in the Premier League, very few of them are under 23 and very few play in key positions. The HKRT coaches actually have a limited pool of players to pick from. Couple that to the fact that some (not all) clubs are reluctant to release players for regular training (or overseas camps), then the results are less surprising.

It must also be remembered that the facilities and support for elite football in Hong Kong remain inadequate in terms of both quality and quantity. It is more important than ever that we get a dedicated Training Centre and access to expert Sports Science support.

In summary, I would accept that if we had had the resources and the players available to attend a training camp, it would have helped. However, I do not accept that it would have made a significant difference to the outcome. There are much more basic fundamental problems to resolve. In the new Strategic Plan, Aiming High – Together, (a copy of which is on the website) I set out potential solutions to these issues including (but not limited to):
  • building a training centre
  • developing a football curriculum
  • introducing a more systematic development continuum with pathways for talented players
  • establishing regional centres of excellence
  • helping clubs to develop their own Academies
  • providing better sports science and medical support to elite players
  • providing player welfare and second career opportunities
  • entering a U22/23 team in the Premier League

There are so many things we should be doing better but it takes time to change things and put new people and systems in place. I understand that people want immediate results. I understand that people with a limited knowledge of football expect Project Phoenix to have solved these issues at a stroke. Expectations need to be managed because Hong Kong football has failed a generation of players and it cannot be solved overnight. We need to find additional resources to help us to implement the plans we now have in place. In time things will improve. In the meantime we need to be patient and give our full support to the players and coaches as they do their best to represent Hong Kong with pride. 

Everyone is disappointed that we failed to qualify, not least the players and coaches. Equally everyone at the HKFA is committed to making things better.      

Mark Sutcliffe April 2015
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香港代表隊在2016奧運外圍賽的表現
首先,本人承認香港二十二歲以下代表隊在最近出戰「2016奧運外圍賽」(2016亞洲足協23歲以下錦標賽外圍賽)之表現令人失望,而早前主教練金判坤先生亦對今次球隊的表現致歉。

今天本人與金教練就今次賽事進行了一次面談,並著他在下周內呈交是次賽事的詳細報告,本人集齊所有資料後便會立即進行檢討。待本人完全消化詳細的賽事報告後,便會為今次奧運外圍賽表現作出審視,但有一些個人觀點想在此先和大家分享。
教練以及部分球員曾經指出,沒有安排海外賽前集訓是其中一項令球隊成績強差人意的關鍵因素,此觀點傳媒也有提及。本人不會全盤否定這個說法,因為球隊需要在球場上培養默契和建立團隊精神,然而本人覺得這是一個藉口多於理由。假若有人認為球隊進行數天集宿,便可從一支三場不勝的球隊搖身變為長勝將軍,那只是自欺欺人的藉口。如果事實僅僅如此,相信問題不難解決,遺憾地卻有更多根本的問題需要處理。
在闡述各項問題之前,本人首先要談談有關資金的疑問。讓我們清楚一點,缺乏預算並不是一個沒有海外集訓的主因;近年本會的技術發展部用於香港代表隊的訓練和賽事的費用大幅增加,亦用得其所。下年度的資金將會更高。今年是香港代表隊非常忙碌的一年,有亞洲盃、東亞盃、其他賽事和一場過的比賽,還要加上新一屆香港超級聯賽。今屆香港超級聯賽延遲開鑼,而香港代表隊的賽事亦要加插在頻密賽程的空檔之中。當中很多代表隊賽事是在國際足協的國際賽期之外。要在對球會公平,並保持聯賽的完整性和公眾利益之下,本會不能頻繁地暫停聯賽的賽事,這不是資金的問題,是球員是否有空檔的問題。本會要平衡所有目標,有些目標可能有所衝突,需要作出妥協。這並不是所有人能夠理解,特別是當只從一個角度去看,並沒有考慮到整個情況的時候。
歸根究柢,有更多根本問題必須檢討。
首先,任何認識足球運動的人士都會明白,訓練一個人達致參加國際足球賽事的水平,最少需要十年。參加今次賽事的球員,大部分都是在一九九三年出生,他們發展的黃金周期應為十歲至二十歲之間,即二○○三至二○一三年。雖然未曾身處其中,但本人從不同人士理解到那個時期並沒有太多足球培訓發展;當時的訓練制度未能有效培訓這群球員,因此我無意對他們橫加指責。事實上,這群小伙子對足球充滿熱情,亦為代表香港而努力爭拼,只是在他們的成長之年缺乏有系統的正規訓練以及完善的競賽機會,導致他們在技術、體能以至戰術意識上,落後於鄰近國家地區的球員。他們不可能一夜之間脫胎換骨。作為一個曾經涉足運動發展長達三十五年的人士,請相信我,沒有任何一個海外訓練營能夠解開這個長期癥結。
其他因素包括這群代表隊成員參與訓練和比賽的強度和次數,本土的年青球員未必時常有機會代表球會參加比賽,又不常獲得足夠的強化訓練,這些都是他們所需的。大部分香港超級聯賽球會都會用上所有的外援名額 (在任何單一賽事中,六名外援出現在大軍名單中,而最多四名可以派遣上陣)。除此之外,在眾多球會中,有部分球員被視為本土球員看待,因為他們擁有香港永久居民身份證,但卻不符合代表香港參賽的資格,原因是他們沒有香港特區護照。因此,僅有少數符合代表香港出賽資格的球員參與香港超級聯賽,當中二十三歲以下和擔任核心位置的球員更寥寥無幾,所以香港代表隊教練只能在人員緊絀的名單中作出甄選,再加上部分球會(不是全部)不太願意讓旗下球員參與港隊的常規訓練(或海外集訓),因此成績自然欠奉。

另一點必須謹記的是,香港精英足球的設施和支援,無論在質素和數量方面依然乏善足陳。我們能否獲得專用的培訓中心,以及專門的體育科學支援,比起過往任何時候來得更為重要。
綜合所述,如果我們真的有資源讓球員參加賽前集訓,本人承認這可能對比賽有幫助,然而我並不認同賽前集訓會對結果帶來明顯的分別,還有更多根本的問題需要解決。在新的足球發展策略方案《力爭上游──萬眾一心》中(可在本會網站找到),已提及解決這些問題的可行方案,當中包括(此列並非全部方案)
  • 興建一個訓練中心
  • 發展一個香港足球課程
  • 推行更系統化的培育球員制度,讓有潛質的球員能走上晉升之路
  • 設立地區足球英才中心
  • 協助球會成立自己的足球學校
  • 為精英球員提供更好的運動科學和醫療支援
  • 提供球員福利和第二職業的機會
  • 於香港超級聯賽加入一支U22/23隊伍
當然,很多事情我們應該做得更好,但仍需要時間去作出改變,新人手和新制度也需時落實執行。本人理解人們希望效果立竿見影,亦明白人們期望鳳凰計劃可以一舉解決所有問題。然而我們要小心設定預期,因為香港足球過去已無法培育某一代的球員,這並不是一朝一夕可以解決的。我們需要找到額外的資源去幫助我們實行已經制訂了的計劃。隨著時間推進,情況會有所改善。在此期間,我們要耐心,全力支持球員和教練,因為他們已經為香港竭盡所能。
香港代表隊無法出線,不只是球員和教練,我們也感到失望。但在失望之餘,我們會繼續努力做得更好。
二○一五年四月  薛基輔   
註:中文譯本僅供參考之用,請以英文版本為準。
 
 

10 comments:

  1. There are news reports that you are proposing a "sports passport" for athletes whose parents are HK citizens. Could you elaborate more about this idea on your blog?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Allan,
      Sorry for the long delay in replying. I lost my phone and for some reason I have not been getting alerts on my new one. No excuse I know and I will try and do better from now on!
      I have a meeting with a number of the other Sports Associations in Hong Kong that are also concerned about this issue in a couple of weeks. I will give a more detailed update and explanation following that meeting.
      We must find ways of making sure Hong Kong is not disadvantaged in terms of who can be picked to represent the representative team. The current system is not equitable. We have people who were born in Hong Kong, have lived here all of their lives and are not eligible. How can that possibly be fair! It is a form of discrimination. So more to follow soon.
      Regards,
      Mark

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. thanks for the blog Mark! love it! should be posting on official facebook page as well since not many people really notice this blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good idea Felix, I will talk to our Marketing team about it.
      Mark

      Delete
  4. Mark,

    Brian Eastick, the prime candidate for the national manager position in last time's worldwide recruitment exercise, is currently out of contract. Is there any chance that HKFA will consider offering him a permanent role within the FA?

    ReplyDelete
  5. May i know why Tai Po team can still play in HK Premier League next season?

    That would be a PR crisis for HKFA......The damage of keeping a should-be-out team in way bigger than you can imagine, as ppl always rmb HK football declined sharply after similar event happened on SCAA...

    Please take it real serious and at least explain to public. Thank you very much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anglewoo,
      Sorry for not responding sooner (please see poor excuse in one of my other responses).
      Obviously this subject is no longer relevant because Tai Po will not be participating in the Premier League this season. At one stage we were contemplating it because the number of teams that would finally commit to playing in it was unknown. It was one of a number of options we were considering and we were fully aware of the PR consequences. As you know we are trying to expand the league and make it more sustainable. In the end I was pleased that the relegation stands but at the end of the day we only have 9 teams which is not an ideal number.
      Throughout this season we will be looking at ways in which we can make the league more competitive in the future.
      Thanks for your concern and comment.
      Mark

      Delete
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