If the children are having fun, we’re having fun

This past Sunday on October 30, 2016 I was able to attend my third Fun Football Festival (FFF). The FFF was held in the district of A Luoi, a mountainous district close to the Laos border. The weather was cool, with an overcast of clouds passing through the sky, bringing in a slight breeze that brushed against my skin.

As the weather presented itself in a gloomy fashion this did not deter and bring down the excitement of the many people attending the festival. While the children smiles lit up the football pitches and their excitement echoed with laughter; I become more captivated in the pure enjoyment of the many adults in attendance. This being my third FFF I visibly noticed the large number of adults ranging from parents, teachers, coaches and club managers partaking in the festival.


The large number of adults ranging from parents, teachers, coaches and club managers partaking in the festival

As I walked around the football pitches I heard parents yell in excitement as children scored goals, encourage children to work hard and play safe, and having fun themselves. I notice the adults in A Luoi are more involved than my previous experiences. I saw mothers keeping kids in order, providing snacks and drinks, and making sure they get to the correct pitch. I saw fathers tying shoes, getting players warmed up to play, and coaching from the sidelines. If any anything signifies the level of parental involvement it is how most of the parents decided to take the day off from work to help with the FFF. From brief discussions with many parents we realized the sacrifice most made of taking the day off from work to come and be involved in their child’s participation in the FFF. To better understand the involvement of the parents in A Luoi, Ngoc Linh and I walked around asking adults about their experience.

Ngoc Linh described one conversation she had with a mother whom expressed that she loves watching football and it brings her enjoyment when she is able to watch her child play in the FFF. The mother likes to be involved with her child playing football because it brings a sense of happiness and cohesion to everyone in the family.

One woman, Vien Thi Dinh, mother of Truong Quoc Thanh – pupil from A Dot primary school, told us that she manages the football team her son is on by organizing all the logistics for the team so everyone knows where they need to be at all times. Ms. Vien Thi Dinh told us she likes being involved because she can support her son and cheer him on from the sideline. For her, being on the sideline and watching her son play brings a sense of joy that she could not properly describe. In many cases the smile speaks enough for their emotions.


Ms. Vien Thi Dinh ( the woman in green ) is on the sideline and watches her son play

A common comment from the parents as we walked throughout the pitch was that “This is for the kids, for them to have fun. That we have fun when they are having fun.” Not only the parents but the teachers also share this feeling; Mr. Hoang Tien Hung from A Roang secondary school said, “It’s good for the children to play with other teams and interact with other children. It’s also great that the main focus is about having fun and nobody cares about winning or losing. As long as the kids are having fun, I am having fun.”

The parental support in A Luoi was something to notice. Speaking with parents we saw that they enjoy watching their children play football because it brings happiness to everyone while also providing physical activity for better health. The parental support in the FFF was lively, enthusiastic, and resonated throughout the entire day. For them, ensuring the fun and enjoyment for their children, fulfilled their day as well.

Michael Dao