Alex Yin’s early professional career was spent at Hangzhou Greentown. Now a mid-table Chinese Super League team, Alex was there as Hangzhou climbed from China League One to the first tier of professional football in China (2008). However, when regular game time evaporated, Alex had to follow his football dream elsewhere.
Soon after the defender left for Australia. Now into his second Australian stint, these days Alex juggles college studies and restaurant work in the Sydney suburb of Burwood.
As part of our charter to promote the efforts of East Asian soccer players in Australia, we visited Alex to get the full story. (尹超渊).
East Asian Soccer: You’ve been in Australia for quite some time now, can you tell us how your journey is turning out?
Alex Yin: During my two years living in Sydney, I have continued working casually, studying at college and playing football, all of which are the happiest things in my life here. I give first priority to football but the study is just as important, especially for the English, without which I can’t communicate with my teammates, neither can I understand the coach’s methodology.
東: You’re tied down to three jobs/commitments at the same time, how is your work life balance?
AY: Definitely it’s very hard to balance them, but as I started playing football at age 4 and I’ve achieved a lot from it, my love for football is too strong.
In Australia I spend most of my time playing football. I had a pretty good year with Dulwich Hill in 2015 and this year I’ve signed with Bankstown City Lions. (Bankstown City Lions is a team playing in the 3rd tier of Australian football). As for study, I devote most time to English. Language is important on the pitch and off.
東: Back to your time at Hangzhou Greentown. What are your best memories?
AY: My happiest time in China was when I was playing in the Hangzhou Greentown reserves team. Despite a lower wage, I felt the team were working as one cohesive unit, with one goal. Unfortunately my time in the first team was different. The mindset was more individualistic.
東: How do you rate the 3rd tier in Australia in comparison to Chinese football?
AY: Much similar to China League One in terms of the competition.
東: Tell us some of the biggest challenges in your football career.
AY: It is really a pity that I missed playing in the Asian Champion League in 2011 (Hangzhou qualified for the 2011 ACL via a 4th place finish in the 2010 CSL). That’s a big regret. And in 2012 at Apia Leichhardt, I was trialling there and the head coach asked me not to take any more trials with other teams as he wanted to keep me. However, my Chinese passport and visa situation didn’t allow for me to stay on. Knowing that coach was well connected in the Australian football community, I think I may have lost a big chance.
東: Frustrating. What did you do in order to follow your football dream after that setback?
AY: Yes it was. I realised what I had to do and I planned for my life in Australia then. I understood English was the most important skill I needed to master, so I chose to study here to improve my English. In 2014 I joined the St George team (which was a 2nd tier team in Australia at that time), but I was mainly used as a sub there. I joined Dulwich Hill in 2015 and although it was only a 3rd tier (NSW State League 1) team in Australia I could keep myself in good condition and I was quite happy with my performance last year. I was in the starting XI in almost every game and scored some goals. Our team locked a place in the finals when there were 7 games left in the regular season.
東: You mentioned you will join the Bankstown City Lions this year, how did you make it?
AY: My play last season may have impressed some people at Bankstown as I was given a trial there. After my trials I was invited to play with them for the 2016 season.
東: You’ve played at a high level in China, can you find a way into the elite level here in Australia?
AY: Definitely. I played in the Chinese Super League. I’m confident about my own ability and I think I’ll give a good account of myself this year. I think I am good enough to play the second division league next year, and my plan is to play in the A-League afterwards.
東: Well, good luck Alex and we wish you a successful year at Bankstown City Lions.
Words and translation: Tony Yang, Lew Dub, Wei Song