Four wins away from achieving his well overdue football dream, Jean Claude Chang Koei Chang is excited to take the field for Tefana in the OFC Champions League semi-final tomorrow, but between trainings and matches for the top Tahitian team, Chang Koei Chang is pursuing his other passion – coaching.
“I’m coaching the Tefana U-9 team and I’m loving it. I love being able to share my football experience with the youth and kids,” he said.
“Since I was a kid it was one of my dreams to become a coach for the youth teams and I want to train to improve my coaching and maybe go further.
“I’ve been working with them all year long and during the holidays they’re doing a football camp, playing football, futsal and beach soccer.”
Enjoyment isn’t the only reason the 29-year-old got involved with the juniors at Tefana. Chang Koei Chang believes it’s crucial to start football development young in order for Tahiti to continue producing quality senior players.
“I’ve been playing since the age of six, and I’ve played in all the different categories at Tefana up to the senior men. This experience has made me into a good player, the proof is I’m now playing in the semi-final of the OFC Champions League,” he said.
“It’s only by playing and starting football at a young age that I have been able to reach this kind of level.”
Balancing his own demanding training schedule with the coordination of over 50 nine-year-olds can prove challenging at times, but Chang Koei Chang’s committed coaching team has helped lessen the load.
“I’m not the only one doing all this. I’m the head of the U-9 section so I’ve got 56 kids but I’ve got three assistants working with me,” he said.
“It’s great because I can delegate the work when I need to train or play with the Tefana men’s team.”
After getting a taste of youth coaching, Chang Koei Chang is hooked, and his inner competitive athlete is pushing him to continue to the top level.
“I would like to further develop myself as a coach and maybe train a senior team in the future.”
But with the first semi-final against Auckland City kicking off tomorrow evening, Chang Koei Chang has switched back into player mode and has his full focus on achieving his on-field goals.
“I really want to win the OFC Champions League. This has been a goal of mine for years now,” he said.
“I’m really happy to be facing Auckland City, hopefully we’re going to have some fun on the pitch and get a big crowd supporting us.”
AS Tefana will host Auckland City in the first match of their two-legged semi-final at Stade Pater in Papeete at 18h00 tomorrow before both teams make their way to Auckland, New Zealand for the second leg at Kiwitea Street on 16 April.