America’s game hits Vietnam metro

 
Ready position: Coach Jeff Brueggemann shows locals kids how to “get low” for a ground ball  

Major League Baseball and Operation Smile discover they are doing the same thing at Ho Chi Minh City’s first baseball camp.

Having only seen base-ball on TV, Vietnamese youngsters took to the game with flair Saturday as Major League Baseball introduced the game at a camp in Ho Chi Minh City.

The camp, held by the world’s premier baseball organization – home of the Yankees and Barry Bonds – and Operation Smile Vietnam, aimed to teach locals how to play the game while at the same time creating awareness of the charity organization’s cause.

“We are here for the same reason that Operation Smile is here, and that is to put a smile on your face,” said Rick Dell, Major League Baseball (MLB)’s Director of Baseball Development in Asia, during his opening address.

Operation Smile, an organization that provides surgeries for children with cleft palates, helped to organize the event and had a booth open at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s South Saigon campus, where the camp opened yesterday.

This is the first time MLB has held a camp in HCMC, though its coaches have hosted similar seminars in Hanoi and Dong Ha in Quang Tri Province near the former demilitarized zone.

“I have never played baseball before, though I have seen it on sports channels, Japanese comic books and American movies,” said 8th grader Ngo Le Vy, one of the 15 students from Vietnamese American Private School (VAPS) who took part in yesterday morning’s camp.

Dell, who ran the camp with two other American coaches, said the major goal was simply to have some fun, but he did not rule out promoting baseball in the country on a more long term basis.

MLB currently supports baseball teams throughout the Asian region, including programs in China and Cambodia.

Dell said he wasn’t sure if baseball would catch on in HCMC.

“My plan is now to run four very good training sessions in Vietnam and when I wake up on Monday morning, we’ll see where we are and go from there.”

Judging by the kids’ enthusiasm and energy yesterday, Dell and MLB might have to return.

“I’m not very good at throwing and catching the ball yet, but this is fun,” said Trinh Ngoc Anh, another 8th grader from VAPS.

“I may start playing baseball after the camp.”

VAPS CEO To Thu Thuy said “If the kids here today are interested, we’ll certainly give them opportunities to play baseball.”

US Consul General Ken Fairfax, who threw out the traditional first ball at the camp, said sports diplomacy has the ability to bring countries together.

“Playing sports together is a good way to become friends and this is some-thing I think will help Vietnamese and Americans to become friends.”

Thirteen-year-old Le Vy said she wanted to study in the US someday, so the more she knew of American culture, the better.

“This also gives us a chance to practice our English skills,” said Vy’s friend, Ngoc Anh.

Also on hand was Hong Bang University’s President Nguyen Manh Hung.

Hung said his school planned to incorporate baseball to further develop its sports program.

He said that he felt Vietnamese schools didn’t pay enough attention to sports but that “as they interacted with schools across the world, more sports programs will surely emerge.”

The camp will conclude today with a morning session (10:00-1:00 p.m.) for kids 12 and under and an afternoon session (1:30-4:30 p.m.) for anyone 13 and over. All camps are co-ed.

Reported by Thuy Linh

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Vietnamese films have won the top two prizes at Sport Movies & TV 2006, an international film festival in Milan, Italy, recently.

Vietnam’s Sports After 60 Years, tracing the achievements and development of the country’s sports won the golden laurel wreath for the documentary category.

Hand Movements, about judo training for people with visual disabilities, won the silver laurel wreath award for the Sport and Society category.

A total of 975 films from 67 countries and territories worldwide were screened at the festival dedicated to showcasing the best sports-filmmakers and their works.

Entries in six categories were evaluated by an international jury based on their promotion of sporting images and the cultural and ethical values of sports.

Vietnam had sent seven entries to the festival held from October 27 to November 1.

In 2003 Vietnam had won a gold laurel wreath for documentary Dances of Waves by Ho Chi Minh City’s Tuan Lam.

Source: Tuoi Tre – Translated by Minh Phat

Vietnam and World cup

July 4, 2006

Vietnamese student hatmakers earn good money at World Cup

Vietnamese students are cashing in on World Cup mania by selling decorated hats.

Students studying in Germany contacted their families in Viet Nam to order a large quantity of hand-made hats before the World Cup’s balls started rolling in stadiums.

Thanh Truc, a student living in Viet Nam, said her brother ordered her nearly a thousand hats made of straw. He sent her a photo of a Mexican sombrero by email. It helped her to design a sample hat before asking workers to produce the desired quantity. The hats arrived a few days before the World Cup started, at a price of under a Euro a piece.

Truc said his brother sold the hats to other Vietnamese students who coloured the hats to represent the Mexican flag. The students sold the hats to Mexican fans at a price of three Euro.

With the hat business, Truc added nearly VND10 million (US$600) to her account. The amount of money can cover four years college tuition for her.

Other students also cultivated the same business, using designs for other countries. Nguyen Binh Nguyen bought all available hats in Ha Noi to send to his relatives in Germany. The receivers coloured those hats to represent certain teams, and sold the hats at games.

Nguyen and the other students earned pretty good money, allowing Nguyen to consider travelling to Germany.

Vietnamese students usually take advantage of big sports or cultural events to earn some extra money. Some take these opportunities to practice their business skills.

Cable TV boom grips southern provinces during football action

Demand for installing cable TVs are increasing largely in southern provinces, according to Viet Nam Cable TVs.

Soc Trang Town has a huge demand for cable TVs. Most of the customers hope to have the cable service for the World Cup. They are buying large screen TVs to get the best quality of service.

Some small business owners also please their customers buy installing cable service and using large screen TVs to increase their food and drink services.

FIFA supports underprivileged kids in Quang Binh

Vietnamese children in Dong Hoi, Quang Binh province will enjoy financial and facility support from FIFA, the world’s most powerful football organisation, in “6 villages for 2006 – the official charity campaign of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.”

Co-ordinators of the programme in Viet Nam expect that more than a hundred orphans and children experiencing great difficulties in the province can benefit from the programme. They will be supported and receive guidance.

A book comprising signatures of all football stars and coaches participating in 2006 World Cup will be on auction to collect money for the campaign.

The campaign has collected US$631,000 from the Ticketing Show on German ZDF Television channel since June 8, 2006.

Five other villages in Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and Ukraine will also enjoy FIFA’s assistance this year.

“FIFA for SOS children’s villages” was initiated in 1995 by then-President Joao Havelange and it has benefited hundreds of children world wide, according to the programme’s official website.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said the initiative is “one of clearest signals of social responsibility in the world of football… is the most pleasing aspects of FIFA’s work.” — VNS


A man has quietly collected old photos for 14 years and for the same amount of time, he has travelled on and off between Germany and Vietnam. Each year, he goes to Vietnam four or five times to complete his good plans to help Vietnam build a sport hospital. He has helped Vietnam treat many injured athletes and footballers. He is Dr Nobert Moss. Lam Binh profiles him.

In Germany, there is a concept of the 1968 generation, depicting a generation of people who had gone out protesting the war in Vietnam and supporting the resistance war of the Vietnamese people in the late 1960s. Dr Moss is one of the people of the generation. Along with great memories of his young age, Dr Moss has a deep love for Vietnam.

He is a leading therapist in Germany, specialising in functional rehabilitation. He pays a special attention to sport medicine. In the field, he often uses new materials to make artificial joints.

Vu Cong Lap, director of the Institute of Biomedical Physics under the Science and Technology Centre of the Ministry of Defence, defended his doctorate in Germany and knew about the talent of Dr Moss. In 1996, when he was in Germany, Mr Lap could not hide his tears watching star midfielder Nguyen Hong Son receiving a bronze medal with his broken leg.

After contacting with Mr Lap, Hong Son travelled to Germany for treatment. Dr Moss treated Hong Son’s injury and after just eight months, the midfielder made an outstanding return.

Since then, Dr Moss has treated 250 Vietnamese athletes directly or developed methods for treating them.

Among 18 Vietnamese former stars playing a farewell friendly against the former stars of Thailand, six had their injuries treated by Dr Moss.

Ten years ago, officials of the Vietnamese physical education and sport service understood Vietnam’s demand for international integration, especially in football. For a successful international integration, Vietnam needed to develop sport medicine to help athletes to treat their injuries and rehabilitate.

Dr Moss has worked with the Vietnamese physical education and sport service on the idea of establishing the Vietnam Sports Hospital. Apart from scientific and technological aspects, Dr Moss said he wanted the hospital to become a beautiful architectural work. Therefore, he paid for a German architect’s travel and work in Vietnam for one week to produce a design suitable with Vietnam’s conditions.

The German has given a good care to training Vietnamese doctors and nurses, qualified for working in sport medicine. He said he would organise groups of German doctors and medical staff members from his hospital in Bonn to go to Vietnam to work and help Vietnamese colleagues.

Mr Lap said that when he visited Dr Moss’s house for the first time he had been impressed by bamboos and items originated from Vietnam.

In 2004, when his son was 17 years old, Dr Moss took him to Vietnam, where he lived for one year. Dr Moss hired a boat to take his son along the Saigon River. He said he wanted his son to know about the daily life of the Vietnamese people, who tried to keep their cultural identity despite poverty. He went on to say that he wanted his son to continue his path to develop a close relationship with Vietnam.

   05/30/2006 — 11:41(GMT+7)
 

Ha Noi (VNA) – Vietnamese players had a string of bad luck on May 28 when they all lost in the three quarter-final matches of the 120,000 USD Bingo Bonanza Philippines Badminton Open.

Nonetheless, Viet Nam's top player Nguyen Tien Minh is expected to improve his world ranking by 26 steps to 38th after reaching the quarters in the Philippines.

Losing lots of energy in the three-set win over 14th world ranked Kuan Beng-hong last Saturday, No 9 seed Tien Minh played out of form against his Malaysian rival Hashim Roslin, who is 45 ranks behind on the world table.

Roslin, who is 109 world ranked, capitalised on his 15-year experience to overwhelm Minh's weakened strength in two straight sets. The Malaysian won 21-9, 21-15.

Tran Thanh Hai, although injured, still tried his best in two doubles matches in hope of improving his points to qualify for the world championship.

Hai and Nguyen Quang Minh, 62nd world ranked seeded No 5 in men's doubles, were defeated by Indonesian duo Uki Kasah Yoga and Suryatama Yonathan in two sets, losing 21-14, 21-15.

Hai played with less strength in the mixed doubles later on Sunday when he paired up with women's Top Player Championship titlist Le Ngoc Nguyen Nhung.

Hai and Nhung were trounced 21-10; 21-11 by Muhamad Rizal and Gresya Polii of Indonesia.

Tien Minh and Quang Minh will represent Viet Nam in the Singapore Open later this week.-Enditem

In Vietnam, America throws the first pitch

Thirty years after the Vietnam War, Americans return to teach baseball.By Simon Montlake

The diamond on the field was more sand than grass, a little uneven in places. The bleachers were rows of wooden chairs borrowed from the adjacent high school.But it was a recognizable slice of America in the old badlands of central Vietnam. Baseball finally made its national debut in Dong Ha last month, three decades after the fall of Saigon, and nobody wanted to miss the fun.

On the field, several hundred Vietnamese students stood at attention, dressed in brand-new blue and red baseball shirts. Dozens of government and Communist Party officials milled around a lectern, waiting for the ceremony to start. Women dressed in the long, silky-white traditional ao dai lined the path to the field to greet the visitors, each clutching a red rose wrapped in plastic.

Jan Scruggs, a decorated American veteran and founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF), smiled as he walked onto the field. Last year, he persuaded Major League Baseball and its suppliers to sponsor a goodwill tour of Vietnam and to inaugurate the country’s first-ever baseball field.

At the lectern, Mr. Scruggs took his time, savoring the moment. His was the face of an old soldier trying to bring hope to a country that had seen the destructive force of American power. It came out in clichés, which were probably mangled in translation, but it felt right.

“Here is an opportunity for us to really turn a battlefield into a field of dreams,” he says. Baseball is a wonderful way “to reach out to people.”

It’s also a distinctly minority taste around the world. Only a handful of countries – Japan, Cuba, the Dominican Republic – have fallen for America’s favorite pastime. In Vietnam, baseball is an exotic import with few followers. The national obsession is European soccer.

But the American can-do spirit carries a long way – from Washington, where the VVMF oversees the black granite memorial wall that for many symbolizes the sorrows of war, to the sandy soil of Dong Ha.

The school field wasn’t a literal battlefield where armies clashed. But, like other areas around the old demilitarized zone, it was subject to a relentless US bombing campaign that littered the countryside with mines and other unexploded ordinance, or UXO.

When workers moved in to regrade the field, an old soccer pitch, they first had to remove several bombshells, mortars, and other ordnance. These are some of the estimated 300,000 tons of UXO that lie buried in Vietnamese soil.

Scruggs knows the stats. Since 2000, his organization has raised millions of dollars for mine clearance and education campaigns run out of a small office in Dong Ha. From this work grew the idea of bringing baseball to Vietnam, and putting on a show.

After the speeches and ribbon cutting, the field was cleared for a training session run by a team of US baseball professionals. For the next two hours they coached a group of around a hundred male and female students how to throw, pitch, and bat – all watched by curious locals.

“I like this game,” says 11th-grader Ho Anh Duc as he waited his turn. “It’s fast and I can use my strength and my speed.” He’d seen baseball on TV and thought it would be a fun alternative to soccer, his favorite sport.

Out on the field, Danny Graves, a reliever for the Cleveland Indians, demonstrated how to throw a fast ball. He waited impatiently for his translator to finish, swinging his arm back and forth. “Yes, good, that’s great,” he says, as a willowy female student hurls the ball across the field.

For Mr. Graves, this was no ordinary pre-season tour. Born in Saigon and raised in Florida, Graves is the only Vietnamese-American player in the Major League. It was his first time back in 31 years, a chance to rediscover his roots. His mother, a Vietnamese who met her late husband, a US soldier, while working at the US Embassy, had joined the tour, too.

Finally, the time was up. Graves lingered on the field, signing autographs and posing for photos with the students, before boarding the bus for the two-hour drive back to Hue, the old imperial capital, where the baseball players and American veterans were staying. Scruggs was fading, his head resting against the seat in front.

But Graves was too excited to rest. He was already dreaming of coming back to teach baseball again, he says, perhaps one day even becoming the coach of Vietnam’s first national team.

Why not? Baseball had arrived. And he was an American whose mixed ethnicity suddenly made sense. “Before, the only thing I knew is what’s on TV. Now being here and seeing the people and how they live, I feel like I’m part of Vietnam,” he says.

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Vietnam men’s table tennis team ranked world number 40

Doan Kien Quoc

Vietnam ranks 40th among men and 55th among women on the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)’s rankings table released last week.

The Vietnamese men, with 156 points, are ranked second in Southeast Asia behind Singapore who, with 174 points, are world-ranked 30th.

Vietnam is followed by Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

The three top Vietnamese players, Doan Kien Quoc, Tran Tuan Quynh, and Nguyen Nam Hai, are respectively ranked 250th, 256th, and 322nd in the world.

Among women, Vietnam is fifth in the Southeast Asian region behind world number six Singapore, Thailand (24), Malaysia (29), and Indonesia (41).

Luong Thi Tam at world number 391 is the leading Vietnamese player. Mai Xuan Hang (437) and Nguyen Tra My (534) are the others in the list.

The ITTF said the rankings are based on the points achieved by the three highest ranked individual players from each national association.

The rankings will be taken into consideration for seeding at the World Team Championships to be held from April 24th to May 1st in Bremen, Germany.

China, the Republic of Korea, and Austria lead the men’s team rankings and China, Hong Kong, and the Republic of Korea the women’s rankings.

Source: ITTF website, Vietnam news Agency – Compiled by Minh Phat