The Hong Kong FA have been awarded an AFC grassroots recognition award of Euro 37,000 for its efforts to actively develop and promote football from the bottom up.
Project Phoenix is the HKFA’s ambitious plan to revolutionize the Hong Kong game at all levels, with thirty ground-breaking proposals to ultimately make the national team competitive again. Aspects of the plans include establishing a new premier league, drawing back fans to the stadiums, establishing a national football training centre and of course, developing grassroots football.
“This Grassroots award from the AFC is testament to the success of Project Phoenix and recognition of HKFA’s efforts to improve football in Hong Kong. HKFA’s strategic plan for change is starting to gain some traction beginning from the base which is Grassroots Football and continuing the process of transformation all the way to the top of elite development,” said Stephen O’Connor, Technical Director of The Hong Kong Football Association.
The reward money will be given to assist and sustain the HKFA in their efforts to enhance the local grassroots game which it defines as football for boys and girls under the age of 12. Under the HKFA umbrella, over 15,000 children annually go through several programs including the Jockey Club Youth Development Programme, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department’s School Sports Programme and the Junior Fans Club.
The HKFA says it plans to develop its grassroots programmes with greater emphasis on in age-group training / coaching and a focus on developing core skills by using a small-sided-games approach. To standardize all the different youth programmes, a national curriculum will also be produced as a benchmark for coaches to follow.
Ultimately, Hong Kong is a pressurized society and its youth already have enough educational related stress so the HKFA intends to provide children with a fun and safe environment to enjoy their football. This small sense of recognition from the AFC is a sign that the local game is slowly heading the right direction.
Christopher KL Lau is a freelance writer who was born in England and now works in Hong Kong.
All pictures courtesy of Christopher KL Lau
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