Ricardo Rambo has been the Hong Kong Women’s National Team manager for about one year now and recently had the chance to experience the energy of the Asian Games in Indonesia. Rambo will now take his squad to two sets of qualifying games: the Olympics qualifiers and the Women’s EAFF East Asian Championship Qualifying campaign.In a recent interview, Rambo shared his thoughts on the first year of his role and the recent Asian games.
“I thought the experience was really great at the Asian Games. It was the first time for me, but to see a different organization and a different competition was quite a learning opportunity. Everyone knows that the Hong Kong women’s team is developing well, but we need time and we need more competition and we need to be stronger in terms of the women’s league. This was proven at the Asian games as we took on some very strong teams, China and North Korea. We lost the first game to China, but for the other games, even though we lost, we really improved in what we wanted to see. This showed us that if we had stronger competitions, then we could raise our level up. We have played some friendly games with Chinese Taipei and we can see that the gap is not that big, so it is something that we can and we will work towards.”
Making the transition from club football to international football has been a learning process for Rambo and he is keen to acquire even more knowledge.
“I am still learning a lot and my first two to three months were about learning more about the women’s game. The team members were motivated to learn and to ask questions as well and they all had a very good training attitude. The only thing is that they need more support from the public and more support from people who believe in them, so they can do better in international competitions. It has been one year now and I am still learning, but I think I have showed them how we can play and train.”
Rambo also addressed the culture in Hong Kong, which is more geared towards academics and where a long term career as a professional athlete is seen as not viable. But Rambo gave counter-examples of Cheung Wai-ki who was signed by Brisbane Roar in the Australian W-League and Ching Hang-chun who recently moved to Swansea City in Wales from Kitchee.
“I think there was some change when Cheung Wai-ki went to Australia and two of our young players went to the United States with a scholarship. This shows you can combine work, study and sports. This provides a good balance and a boost for more women playing in Hong Kong.”
Rambo said that the game could offer more opportunities beyond just the playing side and that more female coaches and referees could get involved in both the professional and amateur games. (This link provides a video of some players and their aspirations.)
“With the help of the new Tseung Kwan O Training Centre, we can work more on the fitness side of things, as we can catch up to stronger teams. We have to think of ways to be more professional with the girls and to empower the girls. Some of the projects we want to pursue is to have more female coaches, even in the youth teams. This would give them more opportunities to learn.”
“There is also Gigi Law, the referee. She is a representative for Hong Kong and a great role model for Hong Kong parents and girls, so hopefully more will follow her example and create more opportunities. Speaking to others in the United States and Australia, once there is more of a vision, then others will jump in to help and assist.”
Rambo also gave his thoughts on the upcoming qualifying games for the Olympics (to be held in Thailand) and for the East Asian Qualifying games (Guam).
“These are two different competitions. We are going to have a stronger side for the Olympics. But we don’t have enough trainings, because of the league. Still, we will be with good teams like Iran and Lebanon which are similar to our levels, so there is always a chance to qualify. It will be more physical, but we will work on our possession. For the EAFF, it will be a younger side, as many of our senior team can’t leave their work for another tournament. However, this is a good chance for the younger players to gain experience.”
Women’s football is growing all around the world and Ricardo Rambo gave his views on which teams he considered to be the strongest in the world.
“I have seen USA and Australian playing in the AFC. Japan have a really strong side and even though they are not the most physical, they are really good for possession football and good on the ball. China is also getting much closer and I also think Brazil is good. However, I still think Germany is the strongest side at the moment.”
Chonburi, Thailand, 8th-13th November 2018
Stadium: Institute of Physical Education (IPE) Stadium, Chonburi
November 8th, 4pm, Hong Kong vs UAE
November 11th, 12pm, Lebanon vs Hong Kong
November 13th, 12pm, Iran vs Hong Kong
EAFF Round 2:
Guam, 1st December – 5th December, 2018
Stadium: Guam FA National Training Center
December 1st, Hong Kong vs Chinese Taipei
December 3rd, Hong Kong vs China
December 5th, Hong Kong vs Mongolia