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Richard Donnelly from Manchester United shares experiences in youth football training

A solid foundation in youth training is an indispensable cornerstone of football development. The Hong Kong Jockey Club is therefore committed to enhancing the level and quality of local football coaches by introducing world-class football training. Recently, the Club took steps to further this objective by inviting Richard Donnelly, who has worked as a young talent scout and coach for many years for Manchester United, to come to Hong Kong to share his experiences in football training with local coaches and university student coach-trainees. His aim was to expand their horizons by providing a different experience and approach toward early-stage football training.

Sharing football know-how to nurture young players

Richard not only has many years of experience in working with youth footballers, but he is also a Lecturer of Sports Science. With these rich and unique qualifications, he is definitely someone that local youth football coaches can look up to. Richard first held a seminar at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Chai Wan Campus), where he discussed and presented a summary of the progress of the Jockey Club School Football Development Scheme with a group of student coach trainees, who took full advantage of this rare opportunity to learn tips and tricks for developing the potential of young players.

Introducing a new football training model for schools

At the invitation of Dr. LEUNG Fung-lin, Elean, Director of the Sports Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Club arranged for Richard to hold a training session for the university’s football team. With the help of Manchester United’s training model, the players were able to enhance their performance and efficiency on the field, while Richard used his professional knowledge to correct their weaknesses and advise them on how to further improve their performance.

Drawing on professional experience to explain the development of youth football

In addition to holding both theoretical and practical classes for university students, Richard also shared the importance of early-stage football development with coaches of all levels at the Hong Kong Sports Institute and the Hong Kong Football Association. Coaches in attendance included the First Team Coach of Hong Kong Representative Football Team Kim Pan-gon, Hong Kong Football Association Technical Director Kwok Ka Ming, Hong Kong Football Association Women's Football Manager Wong Yeuk-ling Betty, and Hong Kong Football Association Specialist Conditioning Coach Mathew Pears. Richard stressed that for 6- to 9-year-olds, technical training takes a back seat to the importance of ensuring that they experience the fun of football. This is because only by having fun and achieving a sense of success can young players be encouraged to persevere in learning, and a strong foundation for youth football development be set. In order to allow young players to grow in a supportive training environment, coaches need to foster positive coordination and communication with parents so that these young players have minimal intervention and maximum freedom to develop their football potential. This is key to early-stage football development and education.