Fans of Australian Rules Football in Vietnam are about to have the weekend of a lifetime. Words by Harry Hodge
Teams from all over Asia are descending upon Ho Chi Minh City with their sights set on continental supremacy at the AFL Asian Championships, to be held at RMIT University. This year’s championships will also promote regional talent with the All-Asian Cup on Friday Oct. 14, played between Indonesia, China and a combined Indochina team, with around 10 Vietnamese players taking part. The host club, the Vietnam Swans, will have two full squads competing in the main tournament, and the All-Asian Cup gives local players a chance to hone their skills against similar competition.
“We have been blown away by the response by all the AFL Asia clubs across the region, 18 teams from 12 countries across Asia,” said Vietnam Swans national president Grant Keys, adding that this translates into roughly 500 participants over the weekend.
“This will be the biggest Australian Rules Footy sporting event ever held in Vietnam, possibly ever in Asia, we can’t wait to welcome all teams to Vietnam.”
The main draw will take place on Saturday, Oct. 15, with non-stop football over 34 games scheduled from 7.30 am through to the Division 1 and 2 Grand Finals at 4.20pm. Some of the highlights of the weekend include the first all-women’s match to be played at the Championships, as well as West Coast Eagles Premiership player Andrew Embley conducting an open training session for the region’s local players from 10.30am on Friday, Oct. 14 at RMIT. Embley will also coach the combined Indochina team in the All-Asia Cup at 2pm.
A party atmosphere is expected at RMIT with DJs, catering and refreshments available, and a special kids’ zone for families to come along and enjoy the day. Flying in from Australia to let fly on the decks will be the much lauded DJ Soup.
“As hosts the Swans are keen to put our best-ever foot forward and are excited about the response we have had from our playing group to be involved,” Keys said. “It’s going to be a selectors’ nightmare to choose a final 26 players for our first division squad.”
“We hope to see a big supporter base down at RMIT to get behind the Swannies!”
The AFL Asia All-Asian Cup (Oct. 14) and AFL Asian Championships (Oct. 15) will be held at RMIT University Saigon Campus. Entry is free. Visit vietnamswans.com for more details
Vietnam claims first-ever Paralympic title
Le Van Cong won a gold medal in the 49kg weightlifting category, Vietnam’s first ever at the Paralympics, and bettered his own world record in the process at the 2016 Rio Paralympics last month.
The 32-year-old athlete from Ha Tinh Province successfully lifted 183kg to beat Jordan’s Omar Qarada who lifted 177kg.
Cong was paralyzed in both legs after his mother contracted dengue fever when she was pregnant. Born into a poor farmer’s family, he migrated to Ho Chi Minh City as a 19-year-old with just VND1 million (US$45) in his pocket and a few clothes.
He has won several medals in national and regional events, including two golds at the 2009 and 2014 ASEAN Para Games and a gold medal at the 2015 Asian Weightlifting Championships.
Champions League Not on TV
No Vietnamese television stations have been able to secure exclusive live rights to any UEFA Champions League matches for the 2016-17 season.
Diehard fans may have to turn to the Internet to watch live broadcasts of the new season, as local TV channels have no chance in broadcast negotiations.
It is the first time in many years Vietnam has failed to secure the telecast rights to Europe’s biggest club championship. In August 2015, local cable TV operator VTVcab announced at a press conference that they had acquired the live rights for three consecutive Champions League seasons ending in 2018.
According to a VTVcab statement at that time, the company would broadcast 73 games, or 60 percent of the season’s total matches, on its cable channel. VTVcab claimed exclusive rights to broadcast 44 out of the 73 matches, as well as the most important games — the semifinals and finals — of each season.
But in March this year, the telecast rights holder abruptly disconnected the signal to VTVcab, saying that the Vietnamese channel had allowed their copyrighted footage to be “stolen and illegally reproduced across Vietnam”.
Vietnamese Footballers to Train in South Korea
The national football team will enjoy a training course in the Republic of Korea as preparation for the upcoming ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup.
Players were summoned in late September before competing with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in a friendly match on Oct. 8 at My Dinh Stadium, Hanoi.
They will depart for the Republic of Korea seven days later, where they will take part in an intensive course and three games with local squads over the course of two weeks.
In the last event, Vietnam reached the semi-finals, losing 5-2 to Malaysia over two legs.
Danang Hosts Beach Sport Games Rendezvous
More than 3,100 athletes and 1,500 coaches and officials from 42 teams from Asian countries and territories registered for the fifth Asian Beach Games (ABG5) in Danang from Sep. 24 to Oct. 3.
Over 1,400 international and domestic referees, supervisors and technical experts officiated at the 10-day games that Vietnam hosted for the first time. More than 1,500 Vietnamese volunteers were involved.
The biennial event was themed ‘Shining Sea, Bright Future’ with 172 medal sets available across 14 sports. The East Sea Park hosted the closing ceremonies, as well as the main sports. This is the first time the country has hosted the games.