The Chinese Super League and the Hong Kong Premier League have co-existed side by side for several years now as two separate entities. Both leagues have revamped their image and both have the collective goal of raising the standard of play of their respective national teams. Despite the close proximity of the two leagues, very few players have moved between them and the move north, from Hong Kong to China, has been a rare occurrence until only the past season or two. One such player who has made the journey from Hong Kong to the Chinese Super League is Jack Sealy, a long term member of the Hong Kong national team.
Sealy’s impressive performances for Hong Kong in the recent World Cup qualifying campaign against China won him much praise and kudos and importantly, got him noticed by Chinese Super League teams, as he has since moved to Changchun Yatai Football Club. The transition from playing in-front of several thousand fans to numbers five to six times that of a regular Hong Kong match is daunting but Sealy has several years of playing experience under his belt and will seek to take to his new surroundings with relish.
In an exclusive interview with Wild East Football, Jack Sealy shares his initial thoughts on the Chinese Super League and his role in the pivotal Hong Kong versus China games.
You played in Hong Kong for many years and now have moved to Changchun Yatai Football Club in the Chinese Super League. Did you have ever envision playing in China before? How has the transition been so far?
To be honest, in previous years, I always dismissed the China leagues and never thought I would go. But as I started to develop as a player, it became more interesting to me, so I thought I’d give it a go. So far, it has been good. Growing up in Hong Kong has helped me to understand some of the cultural differences, but its only been a few months, so everything is still very new at the moment.
What have been the main differences you have seen from your experiences in the Chinese Super League so far compared to the standard of play in Hong Kong?
The standard is much higher. Some of the players in the Chinese Super League have played on the biggest stage in the world, so obviously, they’re going to be much better players. Everything is much faster and the players are smarter, which means you have to be concentrating and on your A-Game in every training session and every game.
In the future, do you think it would benefit Hong Kong football, if somehow, one or two Hong Kong clubs could play in the Chinese leagues? If so, how would it benefit?
Yeah I think it would be great for Hong Kong football as it would be broadcast around the world, and would attract big names especially as Hong Kong is such an easy city to live in!
The two World Cup qualifying games against China were historical events which went beyond the scope of sports. What were your experiences of the games like and do you think the Hong Kong National Team is now headed in the right direction?
It was great to be involved in such big games and the atmosphere leading up to, and during the games were amazing. I think it is definitely headed in the right direction now, but we can’t be happy staying as we are. We now have to start qualifying for competitions and putting the Hong Kong team on the map in Asia.
This transfer window in the Chinese Super League was unprecedented with huge amounts being spent. Does this show the rise of the Chinese Super League in step with China’s economic growth?
I guess it shows the ambition that China has to be one of the leading footballing countries in the world, but nothing will happen over night. Buying one of two big name players will definitely bring crowds in, and raise awareness around the world, and will instantly improve a team by 5-10%, but I still think the league is some way off the top European leagues. It is definitely a push in the right direction and is amazing for the Chinese Super League and is great to be involved in, but other things will still need to be changed to improve the standard as a whole.