Mixu Paatelainen – Life in Hong Kong

Mixu Paatelainen approached Sport Careers Agency in 2016 to refresh his CV and help produce a coaching philosophy document to assist him in his search for a new role following his departure from Dundee United. In working together, we have enhanced the highly regarded manager's exposure in the football world which has seen him land new roles in Thailand, Latvia with the national team and now the Hong Kong national side. We had a chat with Mixu, where we talked with him about how he has adapted to life in Hong Kong.

LIKE many football coaches around the globe Mixu Paatelainen has no idea when he will be once again putting his players through their paces on the training ground.

But the Hong Kong manager and Sport Careers Agency client is still working hard, formulating plans for his current side as he strives to enhance Hong Kong's reputation on the international stage.

The global coronavirus pandemic has put a halt to football but it has not put a halt to the work the famous Finn is putting in.

Paatelainen has been in his current role for a year and is adapting to life in Hong Kong.

He made his name in Scottish football starring for Dundee United, Hibernian, Aberdeen,St Johnstone and St Mirren. He also had a spell in England with Bolton Wanderers and Wolverhampton Wanderers during his distinguished playing career.

In management, just as in playing, Scotland has been a focal point for him as he cut his managerial teeth at Cowdenbeath before taking up the main role at Hibernain, Kilmarnock - where he was named Scottish Football Writers Manager of the Year in 2011 - and Dundee United.

He also has international experience with his native Finland, Estonia and now Hong Kong.

Sports Careers Agency caught up with Mixu to find out about life in Hong Kong and how he's coping during the global pandemic.

How are you enjoying life in Hong Kong?

"I've been in Hong Kong for just over a year and it's been good, it's been interesting. Obviously when you put yourself in a new culture, a new environment with a different kind of football and different mentality the players have you learn something every time.

"That's what it is all about for me, learning and making myself a more comprehensive coach, a more comprehensive person. Hopefully I can use different things from different places, like Hong Kong, in the future.

How has life been affected there by Covid-19?

"I stay right in the city centre. Hong Kong is a small place but very densely populated with 7.5 million people.

"The virus has affected a lot but it has been quite well contained, there has been less than a thousand cases in Hong Kong, which is incredible considering it's right on the doorstep of China.

"The people take preventative measures here, everyone wears a face mask and there is social distancing all the time. People work from home, avoid unnecessary travel and everyone sanitises all the time.

"It has affected football big time over here. The league is not running just now. Some of the league cup matches at the Hong Kong FA's training centre but that's stopped and stadiums are closed.

"Teams are not training just now as you can only have four people together at the onetime.

"It is affecting a lot. Our national team matches in March were postponed, as have been the ones is June.

"I don't anyone knows how long it will take for things to resume and get back to normal.

How has it affected your work?

"I've got no idea when I will be back on a training pitch.

"I'm still working in Hong Kong. I'm analysing our past matches and giving the players individual feedback.

"So I am trying to use my time as well as I can but it's limited what I can do.

"I can't imagine getting the team together and getting on the training ground, that's impossible at this moment.

What are your aims and ambitions for Hong Kong?

"People are realistic about what we can do, they don't expect us to quality for major tournaments.

"I want to organise the team, get a structure in place and then improve individual players and get the team playing affective football.

"The youth development system has to improve, so we have more international class players.These are on the agenda but it's a development process and I enjoy developing individual players. We're improving each time we play and it's looking promising.

Do you still keep up to date with Scottish football?

"Of course, I keep an eye on Scottish football, every day I check what's going on. That will never leave me.

"My home really is still in Scotland, so whenever I get a chance to come to Europe I come to Scotland. Finland as well obviously as most of my relatives are there but Scotland is the place for me, that's for sure.

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