Football For All in Vietnam Project Officer Ngo Thi Xuan Thao is the author of this text, which portraits in a very lively and heart-warming way the meaning of football across the country.
In the morning of October 12th, 420 students with football uniforms gathered in front of the Culture center of Aluoi District. They were all ready for the ‘Fun Football Festival – 2014′. The smelling of a new morning in the mountainous area, uniforms with different colors, banners, music and laughter all combined to create a fresh, exciting and overwhelming atmosphere.
All students and teachers parade from the main road to Hong Quang Commune’s pitch. The parade attracts the passerbys’ attention, I’m looking at the expressions on children’s brilliant faces while they are walking, I’m sure they must be proud of themselves now. To reach the pitch, we walk through small roads, I enjoy my morning walk crossing ranges of green trees very much, seeing small streams and wooden houses. We arrive at the pitch, I bet everyone would have the same impression as I do now, the first word comes that crosses my mind is “wow”.
The pitch is lower than the road and surrounded by magnificent mountains; the view is unlimited; the grass is so green; colorful banners are hung up around. Children run down the road and teams spread into the pitches for the first matches.
While chatting with the teachers of ADot primary school, next to one of these pitches, they tell me that their school is 40km away, so they had to start their journey at 5 am. Many parents accompanied their children today and they will stay until the festival finishes. Mr. Nguyen Khac Tuyen, the teacher of ADot primary school, said: “because the students’ schedule is so busy and the school hasn’t found a suitable time to organise something fun for them, this trip is very good and useful.”
I walk around the pitches to take photos, watch matches and try to engage with locals in their conversations, which I don’t even understand since they speak a different language. However, looking at their happy faces and hearing their laughter, I am sure those conversations are very fun and interesting. Parents continuously give instructions on ways to play to their children and cheer them, as before I can’t understand them either. They use some Vietnamese words about football (such as shoot, pass and goal) because they don’t have them in their language. Yes, finally I kind of understand what they are talking about. It’s amazing to experience how much people love football here. We’ve all been here since early morning, the number of participants and parents is the same, no one left.
Of course, the Fare message: “No to discrimination – Yes to equality” goes in line with what FFAV is doing, we say NO to any form of discrimination.
The children don’t get tired at all, they participate in matches, life skills games and even while taking a 5 minute break, they chase each other around or kick an empty bottle. Ho Thi Nom, a student of ADot primary school,while smiling with his eyes, said : “I’m so happy now, I just scored a goal. I want to participate in other games with my friends and receive gifts”.
Those who live nearby cycle or walk back home, the ones who live far are driven back by their parents or teachers. We watch them go until we can’t see their faces anymore. We are simply happy because they are too. These happy children are the biggest motivation for all teachers and event organisers. We will see them again at the next football event.