First Team players Emmanuel Adebayor and Jan Vertonghen made a surprise appearance to watch the youngsters during a training session and spent time speaking to the team, offering advice on dealing with pressure during important matches and tips on how to remain focused.
The visit was made possible by AIA, one of the world’s leading providers of insurance services and Tottenham Hotspur’s principal partner and shirt sponsor in all competitions for the next five seasons, whose sponsorship of the Hong Kong Under-16 Representative Team represents a commitment to promoting the development of local football and healthy living in the community.
The visit also builds upon the close relationship AIA and the Club have established with the Hong Kong Football Association as part of its commitment to developing the game across Asia through its Global Coaching programme.
The programme sees coaches from Tottenham Hotspur’s Academy educate young players globally on the Club’s unique football philosophy, having previously worked with the Hong Kong Under-16 Representative Team on a visit to the Far East in November 2013.
Jan said: “It’s very important for companies like AIA to make it possible for the Hong Kong Under-16 Representative Team to be here. They can improve by watching other players and working with different coaches."
Ade said: “It is important for these young players to be exposed to top-level coaching and facilities in order to help their development. Hopefully in the future we will see more Asian players finding their way to the Premier League.”
Mark Sutcliffe, Chief Executive Officer, Hong Kong Football Association, added: “The Hong Kong Under-16 Representative Team has made history by qualifying for the finals of the Asian Football Confederation Under-16 Championships. This is a fantastic achievement and demonstrates the potential of Hong Kong footballers. The team now faces a tremendous challenge – competing against the best international teams in Asia in the final stage in Thailand.
“It is of critical importance that we prepare our players as best as possible. This means providing opportunities for them to train more often with top class coaches at the best facilities and to compete against the best teams. The training camp is a perfect way to combine all of these factors and we are indebted to AIA and Tottenham Hotspur for making this dream a reality.
“Having visited the Tottenham Hotspur training ground myself and seeing the professionalism that permeates every aspect of the club, I know that our young players will gain inspiration and that the experience can propel them not only to success in Thailand but also beyond.”
A total of 23 Hong Kong Under-16 Representative Team players have made the trip to London before heading to Thailand in September, where the team will play against two-time champions China, current holders Japan, and Australia in Group B. The four teams that proceed to the semi-finals will also qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Chile in 2015.
John McDermott, Academy Manager, Tottenham Hotspur, said: “We are delighted to host the Hong Kong Under-16 Representative Team at Tottenham Hotspur and help them as they prepare for the upcoming Asian Football Confederation Under-16 Championships.
“Our Global Coaching team is committed to using the Club’s coaching philosophy to develop the game at grassroots level around the world, and has been delivering a series of activities for the players, including matches and training with some of the best coaches from our Academy.
“This unique experience, involving meeting different people and being part of an historic and vibrant footballing culture in a location far from home, will give the players a real insight into the mechanisms of how professional players work and think. The Hong Kong Under-16 Representative Team has had the opportunity to interact with our Academy players and learn first-hand from them.
“The Club’s partnership with AIA will enhance the extent and quality of the work that we can do in spreading the Tottenham Hotspur coaching philosophy throughout the Far East region in the coming years.”
Bonnie Tse, General Manager, Marketing and Business Strategy, AIA Hong Kong and Macau, said: “We are proud to sponsor the Hong Kong Under-16 Representative Team training camp at Tottenham Hotspur. The key reason that AIA is actively involved in supporting football – both through the Hong Kong Under-16 Representative Team and also as a Partner of Tottenham Hotspur – is our belief that football has the power to teach young people the value of healthy living, teamwork and perseverance – and that this in turn will help them not only on the sporting field but also in life more generally.
“AIA has a long history in Asia of more than 90 years and served Hong Kong for more than 80 years. We truly understand the value public place on health and wellness. As we grow our business, AIA, the Real Life Company, maintains a strong focus on providing opportunities for people to engage in healthy activities and supporting the wellbeing of people and communities in which we operate.
“The Hong Kong Under-16 Representative Team has opened a new chapter for young football in Hong Kong with its achievement in qualifying for the Asian Football Confederation Under-16 Championships. We hope all members of the team enjoy a fruitful and rewarding trip to Tottenham Hotspur and look forward to seeing them perform to their best in the forthcoming Championships to scale new heights and bring honour home."