Vietnamese sports ready for resumption post COVID-19

Friday, 2020-09-11 12:15:33
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The national U22 team members during a recent training camp in Hanoi in mid-August. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)
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NDO – Despite the impacts of COVID-19, Vietnamese sport teams have still ensured their training plans stay on track for the period after the pandemic is brought under control.

>>> V.League and National Cup 2020 to resume in September

The resurgence of COVID-19 for more than a month has brought Vietnamese sports back to a “blockade” state, forcing professional sports tournaments to be postponed or cancelled. However, most of the national teams across about 27 sports, including those that have gathered before, still continue to follow their training plans under the strict implementation of anti-epidemic measures according to regulations from the health sector and local authorities. This shows both proactiveness and active investment in training by the teams, as they do not just let their athletes sit and wait.

The epidemic prevention measures have also had quite a negative impact on sport activities as well as the lives of athletes, causing many changes not only in terms of expertise but also in terms of income and operating funds and sponsorship. The most obvious is the disturbance to the organisation of the 2020 V.League 1 – the highest division of Vietnamese football, where there are professional football clubs who have proposed cancelling the current season, perhaps even intending quit, because of their difficult budget.

In other sports, top athletes also have an additional source of annual income from prizes in national and international competitions. However, this source of income has almost completely stopped since the beginning of the year due to the forced postponement of international sports tournaments, while domestic leagues have only organised a handful of events.

However, after initial obstacles, such difficulties have been resolved satisfactorily as there is currently no professional football club or governing agency announcing a reduction in the salary for their players and athletes, while they still focus on normal training.

Of course, compared to normal operation before the pandemic, practicing without official competition has led to a significant reduction in players’ incomes because there are no bonuses for wins, while the bonus for finishing the first leg of the V.League tournament is also absent. Most other professional football clubs are also applying this form of salary payment with the salary for domestic players raging from about VND10-50 million per month, while foreign players receiving about US$7,000 a month. In order to encourage players to actively practice for official matches after the pause, many clubs have offered quite a large bonus, even higher than their salary if they perform well in each game, each stage or all season.

It can be seen that the problems players are most concerned about are their income and performance. Facing these worries, leaders from the Vietnam Professional Football Joint Stock Company (VPF) – the unit assigned by the Vietnam Football Federation to host professional soccer tournaments in Vietnam – are trying their best to resume the tournaments. It is not just the players’ wish, but also the common expectations of all athletes in all sports.

Under a set plan from the General Agency for Sports (under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism), in 2020 the agency will organise large training camps for the national teams to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifying, as well as in preparation for the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games hosted by Vietnam in 2021.

From the beginning of the year, the National Sports Training Centre in Nhon (Hanoi) has regularly hosted about 700 athletes from 25-27 sports teams for training. At the end of July, Director of the General Agency for Sports Vuong Bich Thang asked for the implementation of seven active prevention and control measures in each sport, training centre and locality. Sports centres currently apply restrictions on the number of people entering and leaving the camps, while requiring athletes not to leave their training camps, especially in localities hit by COVID-19, to focus solely on practice.

These measures have proved effective, helping athletes train and national teams maintain their form and shape to be ready for high performance when returning to competition. According to the set plan, from now to the end of the year, the agency plans to host a range of professional sports tournaments if the COVID-19 epidemic does not develop further here. Currently, the teams have strengthened their training plan innovation and are applying online technologies in order to practice under the guidance and supervision of experts.

Hopefully, Vietnamese sports will do a good job of ensuring the health and safety of athletes, helping them perform thoroughly during training in order to get ready to compete in upcoming domestic and international tournaments in the near future.