Viet Nam News
Phạm Hoàng Nam
Surad Jibrin, captain of Cameroon’s Nexttel team at football, is in Việt Nam to play in the 2016 Viettel World Cup. This is the first time he is playing outside Cameroon.
Surad Jibrin, 28, was one of the first Cameroonians to work for Nexttel, Viettel Group’s telecom company in Cameroon. He is still single because he is too busy with work, he says.
“Money is not really important in affairs of the heart, but as a man I always want to earn well to take care of my girlfriend and family.”
His work does not allow him to spend much time with or take care of his parents, but they too sympathise with him since Nexttel is one of the top employers in Cameroon.
In September 2014 Nexttel started to provide mobile services in Cameroon, a country that has represented Africa seven times in the FIFA World Cup -- 1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, and 2014.
Before Viettel entered the market, there were two other mobile service providers, but Nexttel was the first to provide 3G services.
Jibrin was one of the first local staff at Nexttel to be promoted to a management position, and he now works as head of the company’s asset management department. After work he and his colleagues often play football.
“Football is the most popular sport for us. Our team includes Cameroon and Vietnamese staff. It is fun and makes us very happy,” he says.
But he does not merely muck about to release work pressure; he is passionate about the sport. After work or during weekends, Nexttel often organises friendly matches in which Vietnamese executives join the local staff.
Jibrin says: “The Vietnamese are not physically strong like us but they are very fast and have a very good close technique.
“We are equal on the football pitch, but at work we always respect Vietnamese engineers because they are intelligent and hard-working.”
When he heard that Viettel would organise a World Cup for its global staff, Jibrin began to dream about participating in it.
The Nexttel general director announced that the event would be held at a fancy stadium owned by Viettel in Hà Nội.
“It made us excited and curious,” Jibrin says.
His dream materialised in grand fashion: not only did he make it to the team but was also named captain.
Dream comes true
The 2016 Viettel World Cup features 17 teams representing Viettel’s subsidiaries around the world, including Nexttel.
When the Cameroonian footballers arrived at the Viettel Sports Centre in Hòa Lạc, Hà Nội, they were in for a surprise.
“When the bus with the Cameroon team went through the big gate at the Viettel Sports Centre, we waved to the solemn guards and were awestruck by the massive complex, ponds and the green grass cover on the pitch,” Jibrin says.
“We could see outside swimming pools, tennis courts and a lot of buildings. The fresh, cool weather here makes us comfortable.”
Jibrin only saw his national team’s training base at the 2014 World Cup on television.
“It was very nice and modern. When I was a boy, I used to dream of practising and playing in such a modern facility. And now my dream has come true here.”
At the Viettel Sports Centre the Cameroon team was happy with the facilities and they felt at home since Vietnamese food is nearly the same as theirs.
“The food here is very fresh and delicious,” Abale, a midfielder who works in the human resource department, says.
“It looks like we are home. In Việt Nam, we can eat a lot of fruits and many of them we don’t have in Cameroon.”
The Cameroonians were even more excited when they came to know that the Viettel Sports Centre is where the Vietnamese national team have chosen to practise for their 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
The fact that Nexttel sent its staff to play football abroad has caused a flutter in Cameroon business circles.
Besides playing in the Viettel World Cup, Jibrin and Abale have also made friends with colleagues from other subsidiaries of the group.
“We have taken the email and telephone number from a colleague in Bitel, Viettel’s company in Peru.
“We do not live in the same country but we can keep in touch.”
Jibrin and Abale say there are three benefits from working for Nexttel: opportunities to develop themselves, good incomes to take care of their families, and lots of perks, including travelling to Việt Nam for the Viettel World Cup.
“We are determined to win the 2016 Viettel World Cup.” — VNS