Grooming Vietnam’s Football Stars for the Future
If you’ve ever been to Vietnam, it’s easy to sense how deep the love for football runs in the blood of its people. ‘Football’ is everywhere you look – from locals sporting their favourite football team kit, to the countless motorbikes decorated with stickers of famous clubs from the domestic and international leagues.
The children here begin their love for football at a very young age. They grow up kicking about with their friends, be it in open fields or simply in the streets.
OPENING UP DOORS FOR TALENTED YOUNGSTERS
Ordinarily, not all of these children have the means to go on and realise their dream of playing football on the big stage for their favourite teams.
For the past three years, Toyota Motor Vietnam has been running the Toyota Junior Football Clinic and has opened up doors to young, aspiring football fans from all the provinces to train and develop their skills under professional coaches.
“My football idol is Mai Tien Thanh from FLC Thanh Hoa football club,” said 12-year-old Nguyen Anh Tuan who plays as a striker. He was one of the many young boys who turned up at the football clinic sessions in Thanh Hoa, eager to develop themselves into better players.
Although visibly exhausted from all the running and jumping, Tuan still managed a beaming smile when he spoke of his ambition. “When I grow up, I want to be a professional football player of one of the big clubs!”
THE ROAD TO BECOMING A YOUNG FOOTBALLER
The whole campaign is made up of 3 stages which begins with a weekend of football clinic. Kids like Tuan from the age of nine to 12 give their all to impress the coaches with their determination and skills, for a place in the football training camp.
Each clinic session in the four provinces (Da Nang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Thanh Hoa) saw hundreds of eager youngsters coming to the stadium grounds. The events began very early in the morning, but that did not deter the enthusiasm in these children as they showed what they could do on the pitch.
The best 30 participants were then selected from all four football clinic sessions to go to the next stage – a 7-day training camp in Ho Chi Minh City. Having been the Head Coach for three years running now, local football legend Nguyen Hong Son still gets all pumped up every time he’s at the training camp!
“I think the training camp is a great opportunity for kids to learn not only football skills but also personal development skills,” said Son. “I believe that they will become more mature and disciplined after this training camp.”
For seven full days, the 30 boys stayed together as they trained and learned to be better footballers. This meant daily football drills to sharpen their skills, friendly matches to improve their teamwork, and even a surprise meet with local footballer Vu Minh Tuan!
In between tough training sessions, the youths went on educational trips to the historical Saigon Central Post Office, and Nguyen Hue Walking Street where they presented flowers at the statue of President Ho Chi Minh. The lads also made an appearance at the Toyota booth at the ongoing Vietnam Motor Show 2017.
To prepare the children for their trip to Japan for the Toyota International Junior Cup, the boys attended daily classes where they were taught basic Japanese phrases and greetings like ohaiyoo gozaimasu (good morning) and ganbatte (good luck)!
Nguyen Viet Quang from Dong Nai attended the football clinic at Ho Chi Minh City and was one of the those cherry-picked by the coaches. The young goalkeeper had only positive words to say about his time at the training camp.
“The training camp has improved my discipline, solidarity and taught me a lot of useful football lesson(s) as well,” Quang gleefully says.
A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCE FOR THE CHILDREN
With the seven days of training and close-knit bonding behind us, the coaching board has selected 18 of the brightest participants from the camp. The group will fly to Japan at the end of August to compete at the Toyota International Junior Cup!
Mrs. Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy, mother of Tran Tuan Thanh can’t be happier! “This training camp was a meaningful opportunity for (him) to experience the period of time living far away from family. The one-week training has helped him become more mature and to make new friends (too).”
The one-week trip to Japan will be an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as the children will get to see and experience amazing things that they otherwise had only heard or read about. It’s also a chance for them to test their abilities against some of the top young footballers in the region.
But it’s not all work for the kids. The trip to Japan will be a worthwhile experience for the children where they will forge new friendships with young footballers from other countries, visit the Toyota Kaikan Museum to learn how automobiles are made, watch a J2 League football game between Nagoya Grampus FC and Yokohama FC, and experience the magical Tokyo Disneyland!
Stay tuned and follow their journey at the Toyota International Junior Cup 2017 in Japan!