From leading the line to passing on his knowledge to young players throughout Hong Kong, Jaimes McKee has made the steady transition from retirement from professional football to coaching youths and becoming a personal trainer.
In this interview, McKee discusses his favourite memories from his playing days and also how he has adapted to training children and teenagers in his new life.
You have been retired from professional football for a few years now. How has the transition been?
“Yeah, so it’s been interesting obviously. The way things have been these last two years due to the Coronavirus has made things a little bit interesting and sort of stop and start as well.
The initial part of retirement was quite enjoyable as I was able to do a bit of traveling and do things I hadn’t had the chance to do that much when I was playing which was nice.”
Photo: McKee is now a part time coach at ESF Lions
What plans did you have lined up once you retired?
“Once that initial period of retirement was sort of over then it’s sort of like ‘What am I going to do?’ Initially, it was a bit daunting and I just felt like the natural progression was to go into coaching and football. Obviously, being involved in football is something that I have been training for a number of years to do and I have some sort of understanding and expertise in this field. I felt that the natural things to be involved in were football and physical health.
That was the first sort of direction I chose to go into and I started out with working with a team called A&S Football and they are under 14 teams at the team. I was also doing a bit of personal training but then obviously Coronavirus came in and closed all football pitches. I had started to get into it and then all of a sudden, I couldn’t really do that much again. It was sort of a situation where I wasn’t doing that much and still didn’t really have a clear plan about what I wanted to do.”
How has coaching been for you been so far?
“A little bit daunting! Though I have been involved in football for a long time; being able to communicate and sort of pass on the information that you’ve learnt to kids and do it in a way where students are engaged is a skill that you sort of have to learn and develop.”
Some players make a smooth transition when they retire though some also completely struggle. Why is this?
“I think when you play football, the club wants you to basically completely focus on being at your best for the weekend when the matches are. Players basically have to try obviously try their hardest at training but then after that, players just basically rest, recover, eat well and focus and concentrate on these things.
The clubs try and take the worries out of it. I know for a lot of players; the club will handle everything and this is especially true of all the foreign players who come over to Hong Kong. For example, accommodations handled. Anything they need to sort out like visas or everything; the club just tries and make it easy for the player so they can just concentrate on football. A lot of time players don’t have to take take care of these things.
For myself, just going from playing to coaching all of a sudden I’ve got to make sure I’ve got all the documents for the player’s registrations. I have got to be very well organised to make sure that kids have everything for the games. It’s just different having that responsibility to especially like now, coaching kids and looking after the kids and making sure they’ve got all their needs covered. This is instead of just concentrating on myself and making sure I was ready as I can be for the game.”
Did you have to learn how to coach or do you use techniques picked up from all your coaches that you played under?
“One of the first things I did was my C license and this gave me the basics on how to construct a training session.
When you as a player, you are actively involved in a training session. You have an idea of the drills though maybe you’re not always thinking about why the coach set up the training session this way or why are we doing certain drills on certain days.
The coaching course helps as you get a better understanding, like depending on what you want to work on how or you can plan for the season and how you plan in terms of each week. Will the students work on dribbling or and passing and then how does a coach set up an individual session to be aggressive in attack for that session and to build up the skills.’
When you’re training with an adult team, you’re not going to be working on technical ability as it is going to be tactical stuff. When you are training kids, you got to teach the basic technical techniques as opposed to sessions that are designed more around positioning and tactical things.
I never had proper training when I was young so I never had any experience of how how to coach kids that age because I’ve never really been involved. So that was something that’s very new to me.”
What is your favourite goal of your career?
“The one that comes to my mind immediately is actually the one against Bhutan. The header I scored! Yeah. I was very frustrated because I just missed a chance one on one with the keeper.
I can just remember the fans behind the goal and Mong Kok was quite full. It was at the time when there was a lot of interest in Hong Kong football. I remember when I scored, the noise from all the people in the stands was really memorable.”
What was your favourite game you played in?
“The game against China in Mong Kok stadium. Probably the biggest game I’ve played and most important. I always say it would have been brilliant to win but it was still a good result to draw two games against China. I just remember that game was super tiring. I remember running around everywhere. There was a lot of running!
The Hong Kong Versus China game was amazing. Everyone was watching on Television as well. I could not get one of my friends a ticket and he ended up going to the bars in Prince Edward. He said all the bars were showing the game!”