Betty Wong is one of the mainstays of the ever-evolving women’s game in Hong Kong and is truly one of the driving forces in promoting the women’s game in the city, first as a star player and now as manager of the Hong Kong women’s national team.
Wong has worked tirelessly to raise the standard and this has seen the Hong Kong women’s team gradually improve through the years. Wong’s love for the game and dedication has diffused to a new generation of players who are aiming to raise the profile of women’s football in Hong Kong. On January 2nd the team lost 3-0 away to a Guandong selection in the 2nd edition of the Women’s Guangdong Hong Kong Cup.
Wong took time to discuss Hong Kong’s recent performances at the East Asian Football Federation qualifiers and her recent trip to the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup.
How did you find the East Asian Football Federation experience? Did the Hong Kong team perform to what you expected?
It is always good to have more game experience for the women’s team. Although the results were not satisfactory, I think the team did improve in the aresa that we were working on during the preparations. In the past, we could only defend and hardly proceed to the front half of the pitch. However, we did have some good attacking plays in the first and last game. I feel we are going in the right way to develop the team, but of course, there is still a lot to work on to improve the team. We are happy that all girls can play in the tournament with meaningful minutes. Some felt a bit nervous in the game, but they all tried their best.
How was the experience of going to Jordan for the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup? What did you learn from this experience?
It was not the first time that I worked for the technical study group at a FIFA Youth Tournament (first time was at the 2008 U20 Women’s World Cup in Chile) and it was great to work in such a big tournament with all the professional FIFA staff and other coaches in the technical study group. I had the chance to watch all 16 U17 national women’s teams.
There were different teams with different playing, coaching and management styles. There was much sharing amongst the technical study groups regarding the technical and tactical trends and their own coaching experience. Jordan is a beautiful country with a diverse historical and religious background. I am lucky to visit some places that I may not go by myself.
As Chan Yuen Ting has made news around the world as the first female manager to lead a men’s team to a league title, how did you feel about this news?
I am proud of her and it’s really not easy for a female to lead a professional men’s team and win the champion title. She can inspire all other females – not only in the coaching sector I think – to believe in whatever they are doing. Nothing is impossible. Although her success was not only achieved by her own, she definitely worked hard and prepared well for herself in order to be successful.
Do you think more women and girls will now be interested in the game in Hong Kong?
You mean because of Chan Yuen Ting? I think more women are interested in the game in Hong Kong, not solely because of Chan Yuen Ting, but a growing population of women’s participation in football might make them more interested in watching games. However, it’s still not enough.
Is the right structure in place for the development of the women’s game in Hong Kong and how can this be improved ?
We are targeting to increase the girls’ football population and hopefully an increase in public awareness of women’s football. Of course, more girls playing football will have higher chance of more quality players representing Hong Kong. I think we are on the right track but there is still a lot to do in order to improve the standard of women’s football. We need to work more closely with the school teachers and communicate further with the parents. Adult support is the most important aspect for little girls.
Teachers and parents play an important role and are the first place to support and encourage the girls to play football. The need to raise the level of women’s football and develop more quality and potential female coaches is the next step in the plan.