Contributed by: Aaron Richard
When the Multicultural Cup was staged earlier this year, a Lebanese side took the field in connection with efforts by Lebanese-Melburnians who were setting up the structures for an Aussie Rules competition in Lebanon. The Croatian side in attendance also had links to compatriots hoping to foster their new homeland's number one code in the old country. Now the Vietnamese are getting in on the act.
In part two of WFN's feature on development in Japan and Vietnam, we caught up with Vietnam captain Tri Thoi.
One of the most striking features of the side who took the field in the red and gold jumpers of Vietnam was their age. Thoi agrees, "they're a very young side, with a lot of promising players, a lot of very good young footballers from schools like Melbourne High". The match against Japan was their first since the Cup, but with a brand-new playing kit and a lot of ambition, it won't be their last.
The Vietnamese team were originally formed for the Multicultural Cup in March - coordinated by Thoi, a speedy centreman in the firsts for Box Hill North, a club with traditionally strong ties to footy in Japan and footy around the world generally. "There are a lot of influential members from the Vietnamese community supporting us, they've really gotten behind the concept. The response has been so good, that since the Multicultural Cup, we've been looking at possibilities of founding a club in the VAFA (Victoria's top amateur football competition) - start in D4 and work our way up".
"The Western Bulldogs are really interested in helping us out - plus one of our players is an under-16s coach for the Western Jets. And once the club here is settled we've got a framework to help out guys in Vietnam. There are two clubs there already, but they're mostly expats - what we want to do is get locals involved. One of our guys - the Jets coach - is heading back to Vietnam at the end of the year to catch up with the guys in Saigon and check out their structures, see what can be achieved. I think in future you're definitely going to see Vietnamese sides coming over like the Japanese guys do".
With the established Aussie-expats of the Hanoi Swans and Saigon Saints there to help out, community support in Melbourne and some great footballing talent on the pitch, you can't help but feel optimistic.
World Footy News