Football fever is catching on. And while FIFA unfolds far away from Macau, we are determined to brace up the football stars of Macau this season. Duarte Alves is the strongman behind the S.L. Benfica de Macau. His role is multifaceted and encompasses a lot of aspects when it comes to style, strategy, and sports. Stepping away from his busy schedule, he discussed his role and aspirations for the team.
A visionary who believes in reaching objectives realistically, Alves is tasked with building a technical team to leading the players, hiring local and foreign players, making sure they have training conditions. Apart from that, he juggles all administrative tasks that require everything to happen and fall into place. As director of the club, it is apparent that his dedication to his role surpasses the boundary of work and passion for sports.
Tell us about your role at Benfica de Macau.
I’ve been involved in Benfica de Macau since 2009 and I’ve been in charge of the day-to-day running of the club since then. The football division of Casa do Sport Lisboa e Benfica em Macau since 2012 had the objective of promoting Macau football and assisting in the development of the sport in general by trying to create a platform where professionals from Portuguese speaking countries would share their technical and football culture insight and experience with our local players. This way we could develop a team strong enough to participate in Asian competitions– an essential tool to further develop our Macau football.
What’s your routine like managing the Macanese Football Team?
I’m in Benfica de Macau as a volunteer and I try to spare as much time as I can from my work to dedicate to the club. Throughout the season we have different issues to solve and work on. From technical to paperwork and training ground, my role encompasses a lot of aspects. Good communication with all the team members is key to balance my professional life with the work required at the club.
How did you get interested in sports in the first place?
I guess the interest in sports started at home and at school. Being Macanese and with a strong Portuguese influence, since I can remember we talked about football at home and we played at school. I also grew up with the Macau Grand Prix, and motorsport played a big part in my life. I’ve never been of the athletic type but being able to be involved in sports from an administrative point of view is a fantastic experience.
Why do you think it’s important to encourage the younger generation to engage in sports?
We see the young generation less engaged in old-fashion sports and adopting the “electronic” alternative. Sports are a great tool to keep physical health whilst growing up and provide a healthy lifestyle throughout one’s life. On the social side, sports can be a great value add too– the team spirit, the communication skills, the mutual respect. All are key factors in the development of a young generation.
How do we orient today’s generation to the crucial role of sports and football in their daily lives?
It seems that the young generation has great pressure in their academic daily lives, with less time to stay out and practice sports. You sometimes hear people say that, back in the day, parents had to shout for the kids to come back indoors and today you have to do the opposite. I guess the motivation to be involved in sports, in general, has to greatly come from home, the parents, with the assistance of schools and their programs for the development of a healthier generation and society.
You are currently the General Manager and Director of the Football Club and manage the day to day tasks for Benfica de Macau. What are the challenges you’ve faced lately?
The latest challenges have been without a doubt the organizing of the home AFC Cup matches and the logistics for the faraway matches. It is all new to us, and it has been very interesting to be part of this adventure.
What improvements do you intend to make to achieve a better output and more meaningful success?
It’s been a fantastic experience and I’ve met great people on the way. We’ve learned a lot from playing at this level, home and away. We need to work together to find more solutions for the lack of training fields and balance our daily lives to be able to train as often as possible. Most of our players are amateurs with their own professional lives, so this balance is crucial. I believe the motivation from good results is the important start for this process to happen.
Last month, Benfica de Macau football club won against Taiwan’s Hang Yuen FC in an intense match. The victory is significant, what was the feeling like after the tournament?
It’s a feeling I cannot describe with just words. Being able to be part of an international competition and bring an international match to Macau, where our team is the host and wins… having over 1,500 people shouting and celebrating with us not just for Benfica Macau but for Macau gives you the feedback that the work we are doing is being appreciated and gives us the motivation to keep going and that it is worth to give it our best for Macau and our people.
What should we look forward to this year?
We will give our best to achieve the best result in all the competitions this year, be it our domestic league or the AFC Cup. Most importantly we are trying to promote football in Macau, attract more interest from the fans, the media and get the younger generation to dream about football and get more involved in sports in general.
Which are your favorite restaurant, coffee shop or place to rest and relax in Macau?
Macau offers a diversity of options for such a physically small region. You can either very quickly be in a very modern, multi-cultural, metropolitan environment or be by the beachside in a rustic environment. There is also a new trend of boutique coffee shops and restaurants that are bringing a range of new experiences. It’s hard to define a favorite!
What do you love most about Macau?
I would say one of the things I love about Macau is the fact that everything is so close together, meaning that if you can get your schedule right, there is time for everything! Sure, sometimes it can get too intense, where variety is somewhat limited, but from Macau, you can now easily fly to all over Asia and easily plan a short break.
What’s the most valuable advice you could give to an aspiring young football player?
Never be afraid to explore and further develop your skills. Don’t be limited by where your friends are going and following them. Listen and learn from someone who has had the experience. Work hard and enjoy the results.
Follow Benfica de Macau’s Facebook Page for updates.