R&F midfielder Tan Chun-lok takes mistakes positively and strives for continuous improvements


R&F midfielder Tan Chun-lok - who has secured a regular starting berth at clubs and also a place in Hong Kong Senior Representative Team – just turned twenty-three years-old in January this year. There is no doubt that this young player is one of the most significant rising stars of Hong Kong football in recent years.

Tan made his first appearance as a professional footballer at the age of sixteen and his debut for Hong Kong Representative Team when he was only nineteen. Still twenty-three years-old, it is believed that there is plenty of room for improvement for such a young player, as Tan still has many years ahead to take on challenges and reach a higher level.

In September 2015, Tan made his first appearance for Hong Kong Representative Team as one of the starting XI in the away match against Thailand. Three years later in 2018, Hong Kong held another international friendly against Thailand with Tan on the bench. Tan admitted that he has been constantly reviewing his own performance in the past few years, he said, “Before the match kicking off, I was thinking of how I did in the past three years from Hong Kong to Guangzhou. I know I need to improve as my junior footballer life has gone. I need to motivate myself to be a better player.”

From officially “graduating” into a senior player, finishing his degree at university, to joining a new club in this season, Tan has been through some significant life changes in 2018. Although the emerging football talent is ready to get rid of the “young player” identity, he insists he will keep learning and working hard, just like a newbie.

“I am now 100 percent ready to go forward and will dedicate more time in football. Joining R&F is a big decision for me. I want to be a better player and play more, so it is worthy at the end, even though I have to leave my home town.”

However, it certainly took Tan some time to adapt to his new life in Guangzhou. “The transportation time between Hong Kong and Guangzhou is the most difficult part for me. It takes me time from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and vice versa. Ultimately, I have already settled down here. The training condition in Guangzhou is much better, as we can train on natural grass pitches and we have our own gym rooms. These are definitely good to our training and daily routine.”

Tan first joined Guangzhou R&F in July 2018, and was immediately loaned out by the Chinese Super League side to R&F in the Hong Kong Premier League. This half-year loan deal should end in January 2019, however, Tan was requested by his parent club to stay until the end of this season in Hong Kong Premier League. On how he dealt with this unexpected arrangement, Tan admitted that he needed to change his mind-set and set a clear goal for himself, in order to keep a positive mind-set.

“I would definitely like to join my teammates in Guangzhou R&F as soon as possible, however, I need to wait a bit longer and stay in R&F to fight for the title. I know this is not exactly how I planned for things, but what I can do is to adjust my mind-set. I cannot give up and need to show a much better performance.”

Looking back on Tan’s performance in this season, the midfielder had received a yellow card in four consecutive league matches. Tan states that he will face his own mistakes in a positive manner and evaluate himself continuously.

“I would say those mistakes are good lessons to me. As a player, I know it would be quite impossible to have things going as perfect as I expect. We all have bad moments. All I need to do is to do self-analysis through watching replays, and think deeply why I did this and that, then turn them into experience. Then at the end, I can learn and grow from the incidents.”

“I think I have to be positive when I am going through bad moments. People will think you are doing great when there are less mistakes or fouls, but when there are more, it is indeed a good opportunity for you to look into yourself and see what you have done, and how you can do better.”

Trained in England since his teenage years, challenges are not that difficult to Tan. In fact, motivations have been formed to help himself keep improving. Talking about what he wants to improve the most, Tan’s answer is his shooting skill. The young midfielder now takes extra training on shooting after R&F’s daily training session, hoping that he can create more goals for the team.

At the same time, Tan also revealed he is desperate to win the league title with R&F. “I won some trophies with my former clubs, but they were all in cup competitions. So this year I hope we can win the league title. We are having great momentum right now but our rivals are just as competitive as us, so we need to stay strong and keep going.”

Knowing how to evaluate one’s shortcomings might be the best way to make progress. 23-year-old Tan not only has the advantage of still being young, but also possesses a positive attitude an experienced player would have. If the fast-rising stalwart can stay modest and strive for improvements, this young football talent from Hong Kong will undoubtedly shine on a bigger stage one day.