Sport at the service of women’s emancipation

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Women’s sport is booming in Vietnam

Striker Huynh Nhu (right) stands out for her speed and dribbling technique.

Photo: VNA/CVN

In 2022, the Vietnam women’s soccer team qualified for the first time for the 2023 World Cup, which will take place in Australia and New Zealand in July and August. In May, she will have the chance to defend her gold medal at the 31to be Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games 31) held in 11 cities and provinces in northern Vietnam.

These fine results are particularly linked to the tireless efforts and strong determination of the whole team, of course captain Cù Thi Huynh Nhu in particular.

Football to fight gender discrimination

The 31-year-old striker is one of the few players with long hair and a ponytail, alongside striker Thanh Nha and midfielder Thùy Trang. Female soccer players often tend to cut their hair down to their shoulders or keep it shorter to avoid heat and tangles on the pitch. But the ponytail has been associated with Huynh Nhu since she started playing soccer more than 25 years ago.

Huynh Nhu (left) is one of the few Vietnamese footballers who wears long hair.

Photo: Phuong Nga/CVNO

She got her passion for this sport from her father, who was a member of a municipal team in the province of Trà Vinh, in the south. “When I was little, my father often took me to his club. When I saw him train with great enthusiasm on the field, I wanted to follow in his footsteps. football.”shares Huynh Nhu with Vietnam’s Courier

Growing up, the young girl only hoped for one thing: that school hours would end as soon as possible, so that she could play football with her friends until nightfall. “At that time I often played with the boys because not a single girl practiced it in our municipality. Almost all the inhabitants thought it was a sport reserved for men”she explains.

In 2001, during her last year of primary school, Huynh Nhu made her name as the only student to participate in the men’s tournament in Châu Thành district, Trà Vinh province. She outperformed by eclipsing all the boys and was even crowned the Tournament’s Top Scorer!

“When I’m on the pitch, I’m not a girl or a boy anymore. I’m just a player on the team”she said mischievously.

Given her talent, the coaches selected her for the women’s soccer team of this province, which was disbanded a few months later. The coaches then introduced her to the Ho Chi Minh City team. Huynh Nhu therefore went to the southern megalopolis with the thought: “Go anywhere I can play football”

Soon she became the star of this team, and then of the national team. She notably led the latter to two gold medals at SEA Games 29 and 30, played in 2017 in Myanmar and 2019 in the Philippines respectively.

As an individual, Huynh Nhu was voted “Golden Ball for Women of Vietnam” four times, the first in 2016 and then three times in a row from 2019 to 2021, matching the feat of Doàn Thi Kim Chi.

A versatile striker

The talent of striker Huynh Nhu is widely recognized today.

Photo: CTV/CVN

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has described her as one of Vietnam’s most prolific female footballers. During 11 years in the national team jersey, Huynh Nhu scored 50 goals (from 56 matches), making her the top scorer of the activity. She not only plays well as a striker, but also as a midfielder when the team needs more defending.

The Vietnam Ballon d’Or holder says she feels “good luck”. Football completely changed his life in a positive way, making him discover himself. And even more : ‘He has taken me further than I could imagine’

Huynh Nhu’s talent is widely recognized today. “I think we need to change the idea that a woman is not as efficient as a man”emphasizes Lê Thi Hoàng Yên, deputy director of the General Department of Physical Education and Sport.

According to her, the results of the Vietnam women’s national football team, her captaincy and sportswomen in general are gradually helping to end the prejudice and other clichés that can be heard here and there in society.

“Vietnamese women are the pride of the country. National sports authorities always count on them to wear Vietnam’s colors high in international competitions”concludes Yen.