The COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on daily lives and quickens the transformation of every social aspect, the world of sports included. Under the “new normal”, there are no longer rousing cheers from the audience in the stadium. Instead, spectators watch matches remotely, online, and event promotion is also done online. Seeing all the changes, KOO Yui-sun, harbouring a passion for football and who has trained with the Manchester City F.C. Academy in the United Kingdom (UK), is mulling how he can promote football outside the football pitch with other skills.
Receiving two-year football coaching in the UK
Loving football from an early age, Yui-sun played goalkeeper in inter-school football matches during his secondary school years. He said, “I began to love the position of goalkeeper when I had barely come in contact with football. Saving shots by catching high balls and stopping low balls is immensely satisfying. Better yet, from the back, the goalkeeper has a vantage point and is able to scan the field and communicate strategies to teammates.”
At Secondary Three, in order to improve his footballing skills, Yui-sun went to the UK to receive professional football training with the Manchester City F.C. Academy for two years, supported by his family. There, he learnt that football is not merely a spectator sport, but also an opportunity for business development. Yui-sun said, “Other things like the management and operation of a football pitch and the marketing strategies also play a pivotal role in the development of a football club. My training has inspired me to put what I have learnt to gainful work in promoting and organising matches, so that I can contribute my own part as one more way to further the development of football.”
Alternative footballing experience
After returning to Hong Kong, Yui-sun enrolled in Diploma of Vocational Education (Business) with Youth College. Graduating in the middle of this year, he has now progressed to the Higher Diploma in Tourism and MICE programme of with the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE). During his Youth College years, he was captain of the school football team. Once he teamed up with schoolmates and a handful of special athletes with speech and language impairment to represent Hong Kong in the Special Olympics Southeast Asia Unified 5-a-side Football Tournament, finally winning the silver medal. Yui-sun recalled, “In the course of the match, I had to help teammates with special needs to understand the competition strategies, which involved the use of simple pictures and signs. When I saw them playing to the best of the set strategies and we eventually won a prize together, the whole experience left me with a joy quite different from anything I had felt in the past. I am all the more prepared to gear myself up for promoting the culture of football.”
Being a first-time MC at online forum
The pandemic has forced Yui-sun to temporarily stop his football training. But other than his footwork, teachers noticed his talent in leadership and speech making. They coached him to be a master of ceremonies and prepared him to debut in the first-ever digital International STEM Students’ Forum 2020 in Hong Kong jointly organised by the Vocational Training Council (VTC) and the Education Bureau of the HKSAR Government. Yui-sun explained, “As it was an online forum and there was no audience onsite, it became impossible for me to measure their responses. This being so, I had to work even harder to prepare beforehand for every contingency.”
From this online forum, Yui-sun has learnt much about the procedures and details of organising a mega event like decorating a stage, ways of communicating online, and preparing a programme rundown. He said, “An MC must thoroughly understand the whole rundown of the event to ensure a foolproof operation.” The experience once again makes him ponder whether he can use his speech making or other skills to promote football.
It takes thorough planning to produce an impressive and memorable event. So does life. The pandemic makes Yui-sun realise the necessity of hard work and equipping himself in every aspect to rise to unforeseen challenges in life. Starting this academic year, he will take IVE’s Higher Diploma in Tourism and MICE to achieve his dream to be an all-round footballer. In the future, he hopes to help organise mega sports tournaments with his professional knowledge, turning his interest into a career.