As a young child, she loved football and played with her brothers. Chan made it her mission in life to increase girl’s and women’s participation levels and her enthusiasm spread from Hong Kong, across the Asia Pacific and throughout the entire world.
Chan was instrumental in setting up the Hong Kong Ladies Football Association in 1965 and she was also key to the formation of the regional Asian Ladies Football Confederation (ALFC). The latter was an eight-team tournament involving women’s squads across the Asia Pacific.
Chan was also instrumental in pushing FIFA to help with the development of the Women’s game. She is now revered and admired by both FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation for her determination in overcoming challenges to ensure girls and women could play on an equal footing to men.
Chan’s incredible impact and influence is now seen with the millions of young girls playing football all around the world.
In an exclusive interview, Dr Veronica Chan Yiu-kam MBE kindly answered questions regarding her standing in the world game.
1. Where did your love for football come from?
“When I was younger, my home had a small football pitch and all my brothers, when they were still at school, used to play football. I didn’t like to play with dolls. When I was younger, I liked to play football with my brothers. I was quite good and I used to play as a goalkeeper. Lots of girls and women liked to play football back then and it was not very organised so I decided to help establish the women’s as I got older.”
2. How did you lay the foundation for the women’s game in Hong Kong and the Asia Pacific.
“I loved women’s football and I helped to recruit the women’s players in Hong Kong and more than 100 female players enrolled so I could form a Hong Kong team at that time. I invested a lot of money into women’s football and I do not regret it at all and I did well and I got a lot of support. If it was the present day, I would do it all again as I really like football!”
3. What achievement are you most proud of?
“I was proud that I was the first person to develop women’s football in the world and the then government recognised my contribution and granted me an MBE. I was the only woman to be a vice president in the HKFA. I was also the first person to push through the idea of foreign players coming to Hong Kong to play in the HK League.”
Decades ago, a young child wanted to play football with her brothers. Her drive and passion saw her lay the foundations of the modern women’s game. Tournaments like the FIFA Women’s World Cup would not exist without the sacrifices made by the likes of the amazing Dr Veronica Chan Yiu-kam MBE.