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Women’s sports in Vietnam – What should be done to develop?
Linh Pham 09:36, 2022/04/05
Experts said in sports, women should be treated equal, not favored.

Captain Huynh Nhu of the Vietnamese National Women’s Football Team appeared on a recent talk show in a graceful appearance with long hair and a bright smile, but her own story shows a different person – a confident and strong football player who largely contributes to the Vietnamese football squad’s first-ever place in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. 

 Speakers at the event held in L'Espace Hanoi on Mar 28. Photos: UN WOMEN 

Behind her appearance looking like many others with the typical gracefulness of Vietnamese girls is a different Huynh Nhu, who won the Vietnam Golden Ball Award four times in 2016, 2019, 2020, and 2021.  

In the hour-long talk show held late last month in L’Espace, Hanoi, people understand that her passion for football makes her strong and dedicated to soccer, which is natural for men. 

Huynh Nhu opened the event in a way that is both joyful and calm, the qualification of a captain whose team has beat dozens of international rivals over the past years.

In her recalled past, passion is the first and foremost convincing reason for her to win her family’s support and encourage her to pursue a professional football career despite difficulties in her first years playing football in her hometown.

She said nothing makes a girl of a poor family in a backward rural area move forward but a passion. It’s the passion that convinced her family to let her play football with local boys all the time during her childhood and gave her determination to choose football instead of graduating from high school. 

Captain Huynh Nhu of the Vietnamese National Women’s Football Team 

Huynh Nhu said she devoted herself to football because she did not want to disappoint her father who cycled all way long from her hometown to visit her in a club in Ho Chi Minh City.

Sharing a different story but giving the same message, Laurence Fischer, three-times Karate world champion, Sports Ambassador at the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, stressed the importance of passion in professional sports. She said football is her motivation both in sport and in life.

Highlighting the role of sports, the Founder of Fight for Dignity, a non-profit organization that supports abused women, said sports bring energy, build capacity, drive away hindrances, and support the combination of athlete’s career and study.

Laurence Fischer, an icon of the world’s Karate, advocates for a sporting career as she argued that some sports are born for women and being a full-time sports practitioner will enable her to have a stable salary, bonus, and get chances for managerial work.

It prompts a question of whether Fischer’s idea is suitable in Vietnam, requiring the speakers to address issues related to women’s sports and associated them with chances to pursue studies and get involved in social causes.

Le Thi Hoang Yen, Deputy Head of Sports Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. 
 Women’s sports in Vietnam: Reality and prospects

At the talk show held by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN), measures to develop women’s sports in Vietnam and ways to make female professional sporting careers truly deserved its contributions dominated in the making involving different stakeholders.

Realizing the gender differences in sports and assisting female athletes to pursue professional sports careers with strong support from the public were also included in the event marking the participation of speakers who are Elisa Fernandez Saenz, UN WOMEN Representative in Vietnam; Le Thi Hoang Yen, Deputy Head of Sports Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; writer and sports advocator Trang Ha, and journalist Cao Huy Tho from Tuoi Tre Newspaper.

The speakers focused on how family recognizes female sports, whether professional sports regarded a career, what are gender differences in sports, and what should be done to encourage female sports.

From the perspective of a sports regulator, Le Thi Hoang Yen, Deputy Head of Sports Department under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said Vietnam has the same policy for both women and men practicing sports regardless of salary, bonus, welfare, and advancement opportunities. 

To develop feminism in sports, Vietnam has for years made women-centered policies with a focus on finding feminine sports talents and facilitating their sporting career, said Le Thi Hoang Yen. Sharing her personal story, Yen treasures sports for their role in her life. She said that at tough times, sports help her overcome difficulties and released the pain.

Over the past years, Yen has launched and joined a number of female sports clubs namely Bike plus, Lavender, among others. 

Journalist Cao Huy Tho who dedicated 30 years to advocating for women's sports.

Meanwhile, journalist Cao Huy Tho who has dedicated 30 years to covering sports and advocating gender equality in sports said that some different attitudes towards women and men in sports are obvious. In football, for example, the Vietnamese national male team has received a greater number of supporters, donors, and attention from the media.

Some ideas from the audience showed that they joined the crowd on the streets to cheer up the victory by the men’s team and watch matches played by some key footballers like Quang Hai, Hoang Duc, Tien Linh, Van Lam but never went to the playing field to cheer up the national female football squad who qualified for the World Cup with great contributions by captain Huynh Nhu.

Sports expert Cao Huy Tho said he understands well the reality in Vietnam’s sports and witnessed challenges facing professional female players since the 1990s. However, things have changed thanks to the great accomplishments female athletes made in the past years. Their outstanding results have changed people’s attitudes towards women practicing sports, helping them gain public support finally. 

Writer Trang Ha, one of the "50 Most Influential Women of Vietnam in 2017” by Forbes magazine. 

Sharing the same idea, writer Trang Ha, one of the “50 Most Influential Women of Vietnam in 2017” by Forbes magazine, said sports should be for the majority of people rather than merely for a healthy life. In this regard, the first Vietnamese joined the 2018 Boston Marathon and initiated sports and run campaigns for women and girls in Hanoi that gained a significant response.

The famous writer said that to encourage women to practice sports, the involvement of people of different age groups, mainly women and girls, sets the foundation for public support. Interestingly, the popular campaigns will nurture children’s dreams of a sporting career.

"Adults should show their support to children's dreams regardless of how far-reaching the dreams themselves," Trang Ha emphasized.

Elisa Fernandez Saenz, UN WOMEN Representative in Vietnam. 

Elisa Fernandez Saenz, UN WOMEN Representative in Vietnam, said the female speakers are role models in both the professional sporting career and life. They have inspired others through practical activities, and to some extent, they initiated campaigns among girls who dare to pursue their dreams.

With its mission of empowering women, the UN organization advocates for the major role of women in sports. To this point, she made six recommendations to promote it: promoting the role of women in sports; fighting discrimination and abuse against sportswomen; demanding more equality between men and women, mostly in financial issues; ending discrimination against female athletes; empowering girls in physical exercises and sports activities; complete equality.  

Over the past years, sportswomen in Vietnam have gained great accomplishments with Taekwondo athlete Tran Hieu Ngan winning the silver medal in Olympics 2000, the first Olympics medal for Vietnam; shooter Dang Thi Dong bagging a gold medal at the 1989 SEA Games, and breaking an Asian record held by a Chinese athlete for nine years; the women’s football squad winning six gold medals at SEA Games, among others.  

Le Thi Hoang Yen, the first female deputy head of sports in Vietnam, said that in sports, women should be treated fair but not as favored as they are qualified enough to compete in tournaments and win by their own capability. 

Some of Vietnam's prominent female athletes.  
TAG: vietnam women\'s sports vietnam women\'s football world cup 2023 un women
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