Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Kim Pan-gon, our Hiddink in Hong Kong

Kim Pan-gon, our Hiddink in Hong Kong
Written, edited and translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠

(Singtao Daily)

After the game last (17th) night, with a Korean being the coach and leading our national team and CY Leung refusing to show his support to it, I somehow wonder why would a Korean dedicate his life in Hong Kong, backing the football development?

Born in the May Day of 1969, Kim Pan-gon was initially a left-wing back in 1992 in K League. He met Kwok Ka-ming in a team coach training, who suggested Kim to play on the field in 2000. Kwok was a well-known football technical consultant in HKFA and a lecturer in FIFA and AFC at the time. He gained his fame in Instant-Dict, but a year later, the company withdrew and became Double Flower, and Kim continued. He became the player and coach at the same time in 2002 in Rangers, as he has a strong left leg, he dealt with all free kicks and corner kicks at the time. Later he returned to Korea and obtained the AFC Professional License in 2002.

In 2008, he returned to Hong Kong and led South China to be the champion of the local league, and even brought it to AFC Cup. The match between South China and Kuwait Athletics had taken 37,459 spectators, with the "all sold" flag on in Hong Kong Stadium. He later returned to Korea for medical treatment, and in October 2011, he re-applied for the post of the HK team coach. He was, however, commissioned as the U-18 coach in December. November 2012 marked the start of the coach life, though an acting one, and in May 2013, he became the official coach of our Hong Kong Team.

"When I coach Hong Kong, I really want to die for Hong Kong." That's what he said in this September. Why would he say that? "The war between North and South Korea was beyond their control, and South Koreans were willing to dedicate themselves on the field for the country. Such spirit was incorporated into the education system, and made me growing up with a strong sense of nation. Football match is just like a small war. When you are on the field, you gotta spare no effort for the team, so I said, 'Die for Hong Kong'." he explained.

"Hong Kong is a place with dream. I could no longer be a player, but Hong Kong gave me such chance, and let me become her coach." He did not appreciate the system in Korea, where the coach has to live with the players the whole week except Sunday, not to mention the workload." Kim thinks that Hong Kong is more flexible in terms of time, at least he can take care of his family. The staff of South China once asked Kim how long would his 13-year-old son study in Hong Kong (in 2010, so should be 18 now), Kim answered in a quite serious way: "Thank you, until they go to university."

Mark Sutcliffe, the CEO of HKFA, would soon renew the contract with Kim. Sutcliffe felt optimistic about his role, and once the contract is renewed, not only Kim has to lead the match on 24 March 2016 against Qatar, he also needs to take Hong Kong into one of the 24 teams in the final week of AFC 2019. In order to enhance the development, Sutcliffe said the Japan exchange tour in mid-2015 brought some directions and inspiration to the future development of Hong Kong Football League. The Tseung Kwan O Football Training Centre is about to begin its former works, and will hopefully open in mid-2017.

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