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One of a kind athlete Hùng hopes for more success in career



Nguyễn Văn Hùng (left) competes for the Danang Dragons in the VBA 2020 season. Photo


Thanh Hà

Nguyễn Văn Hùng is a dab hand on the basketball court and in the dojo and has the distinction of being one of few Vietnamese national champions in two sports.

At the age of 40, Hùng works as a coach for the Thanh Hóa Province and national taekwondo teams and also plays professional basketball in the Việt Nam Basketball Association (VBA) league.

A dream athlete

Born in 1980 in Tĩnh Gia District in Thanh Hóa, Hùng’s height set him apart from his peers at a young age.

The 1.8m tall boy was invited to practise with Thanh Hóa’s volleyball team when he was 14 in 1994.

However, the team folded months later due to financial issues. Hùng, who received offers from swimming and track-and-field teams, agreed to join the taekwondo team.

“With my height and long legs, I was an ideal athlete for any team. I chose taekwondo because it is a martial art from South Korea. You know, in those years we loved everything from this country, from its people to products,” Hùng said.

“The move was a key point in my career. Practising taekwondo I recognised that it was my breath, my passion, my life. Only people who do martial arts can understand the feeling of winning. It was great when we won. And that feeling pushed me to practice harder for more victory,” he said.

Five years after that, Hùng made his debut at the 1999 Southeast Asian Games and took gold in the 80kg category.

From that point, he dominated the biennial regional sporting festival until 2007 when he retired from international events.

With five SEA Games golds in a row, a record for the tournament, and his domination at the Southeast Asian taekwondo championship, he was seen as an unbeatable fighter.

“I did not look down on anyone but the SEA Games was small to me,” said Hùng.

“I always targeted gold because I could win there even I had an injured leg. My rivals knew that. They tried to not compete with me or even withdrew ahead of our matches.”

Hùng also made his name in continental competition with a silver from the Busan Asian Games in 2002 and one gold at the 2004 Asian championships.

“Talking is easy but it wasn’t in reality. I had to practise very hard. I trained three times per day. I had no time for my hobbies, no outings or even dating,” said Hùng.

“Being champion in SEA Games and in Asia top group were results that I deserved to have. But I failed at the Olympics.”

Hùng won slots at the Athens and Beijing Olympics in 2004 and 2008 but did not perform well.

“I was an unlucky Olympic competitor. I had a broken arm ahead of Athens and a torn leg ligament prior to Beijing. If not being injured, I could have vied for a berth in the top three,” said Hùng who advanced to the Beijing Olympics’ quarter-finals.


Nguyễn Văn Hùng (left) competes at the 2007 SEA Games. He won his fifth gold medal, setting a record at the tournament. Photo

Speaking about Hùng, Trương Ngọc Để, President of Việt Nam Taekwondo Federation, said: “He is the most outstanding athlete of Vietnamese taekwondo in all time. Hùng is hardworking. He practises twice as much as anyone and has never been tired of learning to improve. These characteristics made him an ‘unbeatable fighter’.”

Though he retired from martial arts, these days you can find Hùng on the basketball court.

The 1.95m-tall athlete first touched the orange ball when he was in a training camp with the taekwondo team in HCM City in 2004.

Three years later he joined Joton HCM City and easily found a berth in the first team. He played a key role in the club’s two federation cups in 2010 and 2011 and a national championship trophy in 2014.

The title made him the first Vietnamese athlete to triumph in two different sports, one individual and one team.

Joton folded in 2015 and Hùng was signed to play for Saigon Heat, the first professional Vietnamese basketball team, where he was given the captain’s armband.

Despite being 36 years old, Hùng was a regular face in coach Anthony Garbelotto’s squad due to his height, skills and strong physique.

His performances with Saigon Heat in the ASEAN Basketball League in 2016 and then the Thăng Long Warriors which won the Việt Nam Basketball Association league brought him a national team berth at the 2017 SEA Games.

It was the second time Vietnamese basketball had returned to the regional competition after years of absence. The team finished sixth and Hùng was the first Vietnamese to compete in two sports at the SEA Games.

“It looks different in form of competition but to me, the way of training is the same as we have to train both mental and physical strength,” said Hùng.

Garbelotto said he has never met anyone like Hùng. It was normal to see athletes playing different sports but Hùng was outstanding in both of his disciplines. His professional attitude in training and competing activities made him a good player.

This year, Hùng played 11 matches for Danang Dragons at the VBA and averages 28.8 minutes, 8.3 points and 7 rebounds per match.

“To me, basketball is passion and taekwondo is a career. I hope I can play both as long as I can,” said Hùng.

Hùng has set made targets for both sports at the 31st SEA Games later this year in Việt Nam.

“After times singing the national anthem at the SEA Games. I want to sing it again as the basketball player.

“And my biggest dream is I can coach an athlete who win an Olympic medal in the near future,” said Hùng.



A family meal: eating culture of Vietnamese



Eating is not only to survive but also a culture. A family meal shows he traditional culture of the people and the region.

Talking besides the food tray

The food tray is the symbol of a family meal. All members of the family gather around it and enjoy the dishes together. In the past, the rich used tray made of bronze while the poor used wooden or a bamboo tray. Today, they round trays are replaced by tables in many places.

A good tray of food was not defined by the quality of the dishes or nice decoration but the quantity of dishes, especially meat and fish. Thereby, all dishes are served at the same time, not one by one like in many Western countries.

In addition, different from the West where everyone has their own dish and eats individually, Vietnamese people have the culture of sharing all the food together.

Sitting position

In the Vietnamese meal, the sitting position is a very important cultural behavior. The best position is for the elders in the house to show the respect of the children. In the past, grandparents and fathers who were considered to take the important role in the family usually sat in another tray, which was put in a higher place in the house while the mothers and children were in another lower one. 

Bon appetit

Vietnamese people usually have a “rule” of saying before and after eating. Consequently, it is mandatory for young people to invite older people to eat at the beginning of the meal. Young people only start eating after the oldest family member takes the first bite. When finished, they should also say that they are done and ask to leave.

All of this is to show the respect and good behavior and education of the young to the old in the family. 

Enjoying the food

In the meal, Vietnamese do not eat too much or too little and neither too fast or too slowly, to enjoy the food as well as to show their education. Furthermore, they usually leave a little bit of food or drink as a sign for politeness as you are not a glutton. 


Like many other Asian countries, Vietnamese also uses chopsticks to pick the shared food in the tray. The use of chopsticks has formed a philosophy for couples and the solidarity. As chopsticks are always used in a pair, they are also a symbol of a couple which should be even for the shape and the size and always go together.

Meanwhile, a bunch of chopsticks is a symbol of community solidarity as one chopstick can be easily broken but it is not so for a bunch.

Moreover, there is a culture in using chopsticks as you must pick the food carefully to avoid falling anything and turn to use another side of the chopstick’s point to pick food and give to others.

A family-gathering meal before Tet holiday is a custom of Vietnamese. Photo: Diep Huong Dao.  

“Dessert” of tea

Different from the West, the traditional Vietnamese meal does not usually have dessert. After the meal is finished, they often have some green or black tea. In fact, tea is one of most indispensable parts of the daily life of many people.

They can have tea after breakfast, lunch or dinner. However, today, modern families also have more option to enjoy after the meal such as fruits, yogurt, cake, and sweet desserts.

Good conversation

Talking during the meal is very common as it is the time for all members to gather together to talk and share about their daily life. It is considered as a good time to be together and tighten the connection and love among members.

Moreover, stories of the family and knowledge of culture, customs, tradition, behavior, among others, are also shared and taught by grandparents, parents to children through meals, making it a very unique culture of each family. Many people still remember stories and advice of their family at meals when they are older and some members have passed away.

Meals also give a chance for friends and relatives to meet and enjoy time together, especially at weekends, holidays or festivals. 



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VN football squad waits for Covid-19 vaccinations



The General Department of Sports and Physical Training has made a list of coaches and athletes who will be given priority for Covid-19 vaccinations in preparation for the upcoming international sports tournaments.

Tiêm vắc xin Covid-19: Tuyển Việt Nam phải chờ

The national football squad of Vietnam.

In 2021, Vietnamese sports and football have many important tasks, especially the 2022 World Cup qualifying in Asia, Olympics, 31st SEA Games, and AFF Cup, among others.

The Government has just issued Resolution No. 21/NQ-CP on the purchase and use of Covid-19 vaccines. The resolution names eight groups of subjects who will be given priority for free vaccinations. The list does not mention sports coaches and athletes.

According to Deputy Director General Tran Duc Phan of the General Department of Sports and Physical Training, this agency has just made a list of coaches and athletes who are about to compete at the Olympic qualifying round 2021.

“We have just asked for Covid-19 vaccination for the athletes who are going to compete at the 2021 Olympic qualifiers. For the 31st SEA Games, we have not had a plan. Before the Games, based on the actual situation, we will make specific proposals,” said Phan.

The Olympic qualifier 2021 will continue through the end of May 2021, so the vaccination for coaches and athletes is very urgent. The General Department of Sports and Physical Training is still waiting for approval from the authorities.

In Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Thailand are offering Covid-19 vaccines for athletes and coaches. Indonesia has vaccinated more than 800 people, including staff, coaches, athletes and medical staff who are attending the upcoming SEA Games.

The Vietnamese football team is also waiting to be vaccinated. A Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) official said that VFF had consulted with the General Department of Sports and Physical Training on this issue, but it has not received a response yet.

“The resolution on Covid-19 vaccination does not list athletes, but it does give priority to those sent by state agencies to work and study abroad. So we can understand that the Vietnamese football team competing in the 2022 World Cup qualifier is like going on a business trip abroad. The sports sector will ask for the Government and the Ministry of Health’s approval,” said Phan.

Meanwhile, rivals of Vietnam’s at the 2022 World Cup qualifiers are rushing to vaccinate against Covid-19 for their players. The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) The National News reported that the UAE government has prepared 6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, enough for about 60% of the UAE’s population. The UAE football team is in the priority group for vaccination, as they are on an international mission this June.

Similarly, the Thai team will be vaccinated before the World Cup qualifiers in June, while the group of athletes participating in the upcoming SEA Games in Vietnam will also be vaccinated as soon as possible.

In February, the national team and U22 football teams of Indonesia were vaccinated in Jakarta. The Indonesian team is the first rival of the Vietnamese team in the coming 2022 World Cup qualifier this June.

Bang Lang


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National team to head abroad early for World Cup Asian qualifiers



National team to head abroad early for World Cup Asian qualifiers

Coach Park Hang-seo and players in a training session of the national team in December 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa.

The Golden Dragons plan to head out to UAE, currently the main host contender for remaining World Cup Asian qualifiers, a week early to acclimatize.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, teams in group G of World Cup Asian qualifiers will play their remaining games at a centralized venue. Both UAE and Thailand have expressed their desire to host the games, though Asian Football Federation will most likely choose the former since it can fulfill all stadium, training ground, accommodation, Covid-19 prevention and cost requirements.

What concerns Vietnam head coach Park Hang-seo the most is the scorching weather in UAE, where the heat and high humidity could fast deplete player stamina. Park wants the national team to train at a location with similar weather as UAE.

However, because of the pandemic, it will be difficult for the squad to train abroad. Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) will arrange for the team to go to UAE a week early to acclimatize.

The national team is expected to gather for training in May, when V. League is on break. They will have around a month to prepare for the three big games, with Indonesia on June 7, Malaysia on the 11th and UAE on the 15th.

VFF will also propose vaccinating the national team before competing in World Cup Asian qualifiers. Though the first batch of vaccines from AstraZeneca will be administered to prioritized groups on March 8, footballers are not included.

Vietnam is topping group G with 11 points after five games. The Golden Dragons will enter the final round of World Cup Asian qualifiers for the first time in history if they score seven points from three games.


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