However, Chan’s love of the game did not distract her from studying and after secondary school, she entered the department of Geography and Resource Management of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Chan never imagined she would pursue a career in professional football, but at CUHK she found herself spending much of her time on football. “Once I entered CUHK, I already put my studies on the second place,” she says, “I don’t think I am a diligent student in my department.”
Chan played for CUHK’s women’s soccer team, the district football team of Sha Tin, as well as the Hong Kong team. “I played football for five to six days a week. I put so much time in football that my studies in university did not go as well as in secondary school.”
Although her academic performance in her three years of undergraduate study suffered, Chan says she has no regrets, “because I obtained a lot from football.”
After completing her undergraduate degree, Chan decided to study for a Master of Science and Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Medicine and Health Science from CUHK. It was then that she decided to develop a career in the professional football field.
She is glad that her family supported her decision to further her study in sports. “I took a loan to pay the tuition fee for my bachelor’s degree and master’s degree and my family did not need to pay for my studies so I was free to do what I liked,” says Chan.
Chan’s extensive knowledge in Sports Medicine and Health Science helps her to carry out data research. It also helps makes up for her lack of experience as a professional footballer. She analyses the performance of her own players’ and that of their opponents and collects masses of data from each match.
Through the match data on players, their stamina data, the pre-match and post-match analysis of tactics, Chan can assess whether players are in form or not. “These help me understand the needs of modern football,” says Chan.
Data analysis has become a feature of modern football and clubs employ analysts and pay good money for the data. But Chan carries out much of the analysis herself and uses it to make practical decisions for Eastern’s matches.
Yet football is as much a game of the heart as it is of the intellect and many may find it hard to believe how this young woman, who has never been a professional player herself can win the respect of players or her own age or older. So far, this does not appear to have been a problem.
Chan has close and friendly relationships with the players, partly due to her naturally outgoing personality but more importantly, due to her willingness to learn from the experienced players and her colleagues on the coaching team.