Part 2: Career in Football
We move on to the second segment. So we'll talk about your career in football. So maybe you can introduce the work you do at Passion FC?
Yeah, sure. So I'm a Community Development Intern at Passion FC. Specifically, I work in the Middle East and North Africa region, so dealing with different social issues and issues related to football in that region. Passion FC is a movement that uses football to encourage dialogue related to social issues, empowerment of athletes, football fans, and other things, basically using football to bring about conversation. So the work that I do in the Middle East region mainly focuses on women and also young athletes in that region. So a project I worked on last month was about development of female footballers in Lebanon because female footballers in Lebanon, they don't get a lot of resources, and they don't get a lot of attention. So it's really hard for them to, I guess, move to play professionally, or to continue developing their skills because they don't have coaches, the money, and the resources for them to develop. So last month, I interviewed a football coach who grew up in Lebanon, she is a girl, but she played with guys because back then, when she was a kid, there were no teams in northern Lebanon where she grew up. I got to understand her story about finding her place among guys, and eventually coming out of that and leading girls and empowering them through football, and that was really encouraging. And I also noticed that there are a lot of similarities between what's happening to girls football in the Middle East and also in Hong Kong, because in both places, like Lebanon and Hong Kong, there is no professional women's league, so all of our players are amateurs, and they also play with their own money. So like for their transportation, their soccer kits, their cleats, everything, they use their own money, so many of them work full time, and then they rush off after work to late-night practices. That can be really taxing and probably not the best for athletes' development, as you can see, because they can't fully dedicate their time to pursuing the sport that they like. And there isn't just as much attention, because as you can see, in both places, there are not many supporters or fans watching games as compared to the men's games. You will see lots of supporters, fan clubs, different resources, when for the women, it's just harder to, I guess, pick up from that because they just don't have that much support, like that big of a support network to them. So yeah, I think it's hard for women to play in both countries, but at the same time, it's really encouraging and empowering because despite all the challenges that these women face, they still choose football, they still choose to pursue their passions, no matter what difficulty comes their way. And you can see how much they're willing to put in for the love of their game. So yeah, that's really humbling for me as well.
Yeah, I mean, it's pretty cool that you are exposed to like all these because of your work at Passion FC. So my next question is what got you started in like Passion FC?
Yeah, sure. So I first got connected with the Managing Director of Passion FC, in around July, August last year. She's actually the captain of my university soccer team. So I got connected with her because she knew I was coming in, I was really enthusiastic about playing soccer, and she just really nicely reached out to me, and we started talking. And she told me about Passion FC, this movement that she was involved with, and I was like, "Oh, that's really cool" because I'm also passionate about storytelling and journalism, and using that avenue to talk about social issues related to football. I think it's something that's really meaningful, something that can really encourage conversation. So she also encouraged me to share my personal story on their platform. So I wrote up my whole soccer journey, and I shared that on their platform. That's kind of how I first got to know them and got started to connect with them. And around December, January this year, they started recruiting Community Development interns, and when I saw this opportunity, I got really excited because I've always wanted to work with them, especially in some something related to football, and especially social issues as well. So I immediately signed up, I sent in my resume and everything, and fortunately got accepted, and that's how I started working with them.
Yeah. That's cool, That's cool. So like, what do you think you have gained from having this internship related to sports?
I think I've definitely gained a lot of insight and also skills. Skill-wise, I guess, because my role was mainly to uncover the different stories related to football in the Middle East, so just learning to be able to put myself out there, to reach out to different people, listen to their stories, because a lot of what I do is also outreach. So it's just basically going on Instagram, looking at relevant hashtags, and then contacting people who might be interested in following our platform, and also sharing their stories on our platform. Just reaching out to them telling them more about our movement. So I think that's definitely helped with like my interpersonal skills. But at the same time, it has also given me a lot of breadth and depth into what goes on in the football world professionally, especially in the Middle East. I guess my interview with the football coach that I talked about earlier in Lebanon was really eye opening, because a lot of the information that she talked about wasn't available on the internet. So getting to hear from somebody who worked there on the ground professionally was really eye opening. And getting to empathize was an understand their situation as well was really helpful to me to understand football in a global context beyond just Hong Kong or maybe Abu Dhabi, my university scenario, and just understanding how women all around the world are playing football professionally, and dealing with the issue that we're facing.
Right. So would you say that playing football has influenced or impacted your life?
It has completely changed my life, honestly. I don't think I am the same person that I was before I started playing football. I think it has definitely changed me for the better. Whether it be, I guess, about skills, I've learned to be more confident in my playing and also just became a fitter person in general. I think that's really important because lifelong fitness is good for everyone. It's good to stay active, and football is the best way for me, I guess, and for a lot of people. And it's also helped me grow in my interpersonal skills, whether it be interacting with teammates, people from other teams, getting to know everyone's needs and their skills, what they're good at, and like balancing the team as well, that's really important. But I guess one major thing I would say is my attitude in life, how playing soccer has shaped me into who I am today, because my soccer coach at school always says that you play not to learn how to win, but you play to learn how to lose. And I think that's really important because more often than not on the field, you face challenges or obstacles that you don't necessarily like, or you think it's very hard and you don't know how to get through, and that's when you learn to ask for help. That's when you learn to come together as a team and to work towards it together. When you learn to cry, to laugh together, to overcome challenges, and playing a game is very much like going through life, where you have lots of ups and downs, but whatever you do, you try your best to enjoy your process and to go through it with a smile because you know that you'll come out of it stronger and better, and you'll learn more from it. So yeah.
All these experiences, how has it impacted maybe your work life? Like have you learned some skills that you can translate it to work?
I think one thing that really helped me, like playing soccer, was time management. Because before I started playing, I would just procrastinate a lot because I get off school at like 3 or 4 p.m. and I think like, "Oh, I still have, like, so many hours before I go to bed. I still have time to, like, just relax, watch Netflix a little bit before I started homework," and then I procrastinate until like 7 or 8 p.m and then I will start working. But then football has really packed my time and given me a schedule, so I know that, "Okay, I get off school at 3 p.m. I practice at 6 p.m., so I need to get everything done before that." And it's really my motivation to do better at school because I know that if I don't get like satisfactory grades, if I don't get everything done, then my parents are probably not going to let me play because they'll think that, "Oh, the sport is like dragging your academics down. I can't let that happen." I think it's actually contrary to what most people think, it doesn't take away from my studying time. It actually helps me use time better because I'm not dragging things out. I am actually focused on what I'm doing at that time. So that time is allotted to academics and that I get everything done. I'm very focused, and on the field I try my best not to think about the test that's coming the next day or anything that's going to happen because on the field it's only about soccer. I'm trying my best. I'm playing because I enjoy the sport. So yeah, I've learned to compartmentalize my time and work in academics and sports. I think it's been really helpful.
Stay tuned for our final segment where we talk about career advice.