Growing number of Vietnamese children play football after Norwegian recipe

Since 1997 where the project Football For All in Vietnam (FFAV) was started have 147 new local football clubs seen the daylight. More than 16,000 Vietnamese children are playing in the clubs and the number is still growing fast.

FFAV as a project is about to change the everyday life for thousands of school children in the province of Hue, where it all started.

Norwegian Newspaper Dagbladet published an interview with one of the founders of FFAV Anders Krystad who told about the project’s growing success and how it has reached as far as to the Vietnamese authorities.

“We have to educate 1,00.000 new football teachers. It means that we will have to enter the ordinary education of sport teachers,” said Norwegian Anders Krystad to Dagbladet.  

The huge interest for the local clubs recently made the Vietnamese Football Association (FFAV) want to spread the radical Norwegian way of thinking children’s football to the rest of the country. Alone in Vietnam is FFAV’s goal to reach 1 million young football players, and it naturally makes a demand for more teachers in a country with a population of 90 million people.

But it should actually be possible, as FFAV has close connections with the Vietnamese School Authorities, which makes it unique compared to other Norwegian development projects. In a one-party state such corporations can be difficult, but even the school leaders who happened to be skeptic in the beginning now like the values of the project.

Values which cover an invariable requirement of girls to play in equal terms as boys in the clubs, open training for children with learning disabilities, a non-competitive approach in the practice and seats for the children in the club boards.

“Especially the thing about the girls impressed me. Most boys already played football, but training for girls was something completely new,” said Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, who was the School director in the province of Hue when Anders Krystad came with the FFAV project as a representative for the Norwegian Football Association 10 years ago.

For him the goal was clear. FFAV should be able to offer football training for all children.

When the former School Director Ha looks back, she thinks that the Norwegian approach changed the whole attitude to the project both from teacher’s and parents’ perspective.

“They treat the children more consciously. We are changing the way we raise our children step by step. Earlier we always talked about talent and competition in the football. Now it gives us something more friendly that we can bring into our everyday life,” said Ha, who was so keen on the project, that she after retiring, started to volunteer on the project.

Anders Krystad who came to Hue with a huge interest in building up the spirit of Norwegian football, continues the work spreading the ideas of FFAV in Vietnam.

“When I first came here, there was no local football association for children. Therefore we could start as we wanted, and we began with writing a list of points with our value foundation. In our understanding of football no children can be discriminated. Everybody who wanted to join could join,” said Anders Krystad.

Source: Dagbladet (only in Norwegian)

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