• Chan Yueng Ting (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Affectionately known as Beef Ball (she says don't ask), Chan Yuen Ting is more "Money Ball." She's the first woman ever to coach a professional men's football team to a top-tier title.
Rachel de Bear

The Guardian
16 Jun 2016 - 12:00 PM  UPDATED 16 Jun 2016 - 12:00 PM

She was in the right place at the right time

Chan started in the Hong Kong Premier League as a 21-year-old video analyst for the Pegasus team. Five years later she moved to Eastern.  

Then the former head coach, Yeung Ching Kwong, left for a post in China. 

Funnily enough, Chan was the only coaching staff member with a license from the Asian Football Confederation. 

So she got the job.   

Of course she was scared, first time coaching - man or woman, who wouldn't be?

"At the beginning [after taking the job], I regretted becoming head coach," Chan told The Guardian. 

"I was scared. I didn’t think I was qualified to lead one of the top teams in Hong Kong. I lacked experience"

But she didn't have to "prove herself"

"The club, the staff and the boss kept talking to me, encouraging me and supporting me."

“After one or two days, I felt better but I was nervous.”

But there's nothing like a 6-1 win in your first opening game and a second game victory over Eastern’s closest rivals, South China to instil confidence.  

She amended, not modified the team's strengths and style 

Chan gives a lot of credit to former head coach Yeung Ching Kwong. 

"He built the team's style. And we knew the strengths and weaknesses of our players."

But resting on the former coach's laurels can only get you so far.  

“At the half season point, we sat and watched all our games so far and analysed our weaknesses. I tried to solve our defensive problem as we sometimes lacked concentration and balance.”

And sitting atop the ladder didn't make it any easier.

“Other teams sat back and it was difficult for us to score. We had to improve our movement in order to break down a compact defence.”

And guided her team to the title 

She was right! Eastern won the title with a 2-1 win at South China on 22 April.

“When the game ended, I felt I was dreaming. All the staff came to me and told me to smile as I could not. It was amazing. All season everyone had worked so hard.” 

For now, she's staying at Eastern

Chan's already received a job offer for a Spanish second division club. But she's happy to stay at Eastern for now especially as they'll head to the next year's AFC Champion's League. 

Besides, she's happy to stay for a while in a more supportive environment which Chan points out is down to Hong Kong's culture. 

"In Hong Kong, between men and women, there is no discrimination. We are really fair. I am young and a woman and the club gave me a chance."

Australian football legend and FIFA Executive Committee member Moya Dodd told The Guardian she wasn't surprised by Chan's success as in women's football all but one of the major world tournaments since 2000 have been won by teams coached by women. She was surprised however that the opportunity was there. 

"I’m sure many women coaches will be greatly heartened by her success and recognition. Currently women coaches are all but foreclosed from jobs in men’s football, which is where probably 99% of the money lies," Dodd said.  

But a woman can dream

"I would love to work in the USA or the UK or Europe. I want to keep improving and learning first. There is still so much to learn."