Reflections from field visit
Jesper Møller who is currently working with FFAV as volunteer to collect data for his master thesis shared his first impressions on a FFAV’s event.
“This weekend, I visited my first Fun Football Festival. Prior to arriving in Hue, I worked for Sport In Action, a sport for development NGO based in Zambia, and I was looking forward to contrast and compare Vietnamese, Zambian, and (as I am from Norway) Norwegian grassroots football activities.
Jesper coaching in Zambia
Arriving at the field, the first thing that caught my eye were the colourful small tents put up next to the five football pitches. The shaded areas under the tents were busy with activity. Kids in various football kits were eating, drinking, playing and laughing. Out on the pitches, five matches were underway. I wanted to go take a closer look at the matches, but the sweltering sun made me blind for the cool shade under one of the tents. I had only been in Vietnam for less than a week, and the temperature and humidity was still a challenge. Once I sat down, thankful to be out of the sun, I realized that the football activities weren’t restricted to the marked pitches. Next to me, boys from various teams where queuing to have a go at a precision passing game. The activity was being supervised by two local dads, patiently retrieving footballs the kids would boot into the tall grass.
Looking around, I observed many parents taking on different important roles to facilitate the Fun Football Festival. The parents coached, refereed, manned the water stations, and cheered on the kids. It reminded me of well-run grassroot football tournaments from back home in Norway, were parents and other volunteers contribute with their time and commitment to run a successful event. A whistle blew, and a voice started speaking Vietnamese over the PA. The five matches stopped, the kids walked of the pitch; the players waiting in the shade running in the opposite direction, eager to get their matches going.
While this rotation was happening, I realized that the players that had been waiting in the shade, where mostly boys. Now equally as many girls were walking towards the tents, some stopping at the water station for a well-deserved drink. The high number of girls participating in the grassroots activities was something I found lacking in Zambia where, in my experience, football is still considered more of a boys sport. I had heard a lot about FFAV work with girls’ participation, and it was impressive to see impact first hand.
After taking in all the sights and the sounds, I started focusing on what I wasn’t seeing. Or more accurately, what I wasn’t hearing. Although my Vietnamese is still a work in progress, my ears did not pick up any angry yelling or excessive coaching. It seemed that the parents were interfering as little as possible with the ongoing games, allowing the kids to play freely and express themselves. I left the field impressed with how the community itself was running the festival, and looking forward to observing similar FFAV activities at a later date.”