Meet Gary White: Father and Head Coach of the Chinese Taipei Soccer Team

Family life versus the future of soccer in China

by Sarah Forman | Wed, November 22, 2017

Head Coach for the Chinese Taipei soccer team, Gary White talks about being a Shanghai dad, time for family and the future of soccer in China.

How did you get started as a football coach?

I began my career as a youth player with the Southampton Football Club in the UK. I then went onto Bognor Regis, which was well known for its youth development. At 16, I got my first coaching badge. I was always a lover of the game and had a desire to go beyond just playing, even at that stage. My first coaching job was in the British Virgin Islands as a 22-year-old – it sounds crazy, but at that time I was just focused on getting a coaching job, wherever it was! By the time I was 24, they made me Head Coach.

Gary White

What brought you to Shanghai?

My wife is Chinese and has lived in Shanghai for a long time. We have a two-year-old boy, named Flash. But I moved here for the Shanghai Shenxin job. I love this city; it’s just so international with so much buzz.

Mens Football Team

How have you found being a parent here while managing a football team?

Coaching is very intense and a round-the-clock job. You do go through quieter times, with rest days or during the international break, but it’s definitely a challenge. Before starting at Chinese Taipei I had a half-year period where I wasn’t working. It was the first time in 20 years where I hadn’t been coaching, and it was a bit of a shock to the system. Two of my mentors – Carlos Queiroz and Richard Bate – both told me that their biggest regret was not being around when their children were young, so I feel so lucky that I’ve been around while my son has been growing up.

Chinese Taipei Soccer Team

Does your job sometimes get in the way of family time? As a coach, you’re basically a father to a whole bunch of adults.

You are absolutely spot on. It’s a challenge, and one that all working parents have. Football is my job and my passion, but I’m lucky that I have a very supportive wife who helps me manage my life. I try and balance my family and work as much as possible, but it is a challenge. Of course, I’ve had players over the years who have gone through problems outside of football and I’ve had to be there for them. That’s just the way I am. The team is everything.

Kids Football Team

Soccer is becoming more important here in China. Do you think it will ever be as big as it is in Europe?

I don’t see why not. It’s meant to be the number one sport in China already and it will only continue to grow. I was talking to a close friend of mine recently about his Little Football Stars coaching program. You’ve got all these parents putting their children into football as young as two years old. General attendances at professional games are up. As soon as China has a player in one of Europe’s top clubs, the game will just explode here.