Football prodigy Gil Yehudayan has, at just 13 years old, already set his sights on a successful professional career in the sport. But considering that the Hong Kong International School (HKIS) student already has an unusually long list of sporting accomplishments for someone his age, it makes sense. He won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the Sportsync Kwoon Chung Football Tournament held earlier this month, and last year, he received a full scholarship to train at a Real Madrid clinic, where he was also named MVP.
“I’ve been playing football since I was three years old,” Gil told Young Post when we caught up with the up-and-coming star. “When I got into clubs and started playing properly, it kind of became a passion and I’ve always enjoyed it.”
Gil is also an accomplished athlete off the football pitch, too; he has, for example, won multiple medals for HKIS in cross country and track and field. He uses his speed and agility to his advantage on the football pitch.
Although he was born and raised in Hong Kong, his parents are South Korean and Israeli, and Gil has yet to decide which national team he wants to play for. In addition to playing for his school team, he also represents Hong Kong Football Club, and he is starting to experience the realities of the difficulties of balancing his studies with training.
“Sometimes I wish I went to a school for football – it would be much easier, and I’d have a lot more time [to play].”
When asked about which professional player he most tries to emulate on the pitch, his response was Brazilian footballer Neymar. “Except for all the diving stuff,” he added jokingly, referring to the player’s tendency to exaggerate his injuries when tackled. “But other than that, he’s a very fast and skilful player like me.”
If it wasn’t enough that Gil is an exceptional athlete, he is also a talented violinist, and comes from a family of musicians.
“I think music and athletics go well together,” said his father, Meidad Yehudayan, a former athlete himself. “Playing an instrument and any sport goes hand in hand, because you have to be quick and pay attention to detail.”
Yehudayan, who is the orchestra and strings director at HKIS, believes his son has benefited from growing up in a diverse, thriving city like Hong Kong. “Hong Kong is a great environment. He has friends from all over the world, so I think growing up here has been great.”
Gil’s advice to other young athletes is to treat sport as a form of entertainment and a way to deal with stress, and not something you have to worry about succeeding in.
“Use sport as a way of coping with life and making yourself feel more positive about things,” he added. “Whenever you’re feeling low, you can play your sport – whether that’s football or basketball – and just enjoy yourself.”
What music do you like to listen to before a match?
This year’s World Cup 2018 song, Live It Up by Nicky Jam; it always gets me in the mood.
If you could describe yourself as an animal on the pitch, what would it be?
I would be a cheetah because they are fast and also have great vision. I think that describes me; it would be really cool.
Do you have a favourite food to eat before a match?
I usually eat oatmeal and dairy [products].
Any pre-match superstitions?
I don’t have one, but I might have one in the future.