With more than 15 years experience playing for various women's football clubs as well as the Vietnamese national team, goalkeeper Dang Thi Kieu Trinh has achieved a lot in her career, including being named Viet Nam's Best Goalkeeper. Do Thuy talked with her about her passion for football.
Inner Sanctum: Could you tell me about the start of your football career?
In 1997, my junior secondary school set up a girls' football team to compete in the 2000 Phu Dong National Games which is a sporting event for students below 18 years old. I admired Huynh Quoc Cuong, an attacker from the southern province of Dong Thap's men's team, who is famous for his skillful goals, so I signed up for my school's team. At first, I played for fun, but the more I played, the more I liked it, so I decided to follow this career.
I wanted to be an attacker so that I could celebrate goals like other world famous footballers. However, my health is not good enough to run in the field, so the coach picked me as goalkeeper. This position suits me and gave me a lot of interesting experiences as well as achievements, including being named Viet Nam's best goalkeeper four times (2007, 2011, 2013, and 2015), twice winning Viet Nam's Golden Ball title (2001 and 2012) and three times winning the Silver Ball (2009, 2010 and 2014).
Inner Sanctum: Could you say more about your career as a footballer?
After playing for the school team, I was called up for Dong Thap's team, which won the 2000 Phu Dong National Sports Games. However, the team dissolved after that. I joined Ho Chi Minh City football club in 2001 and have played for the team for 14 years now.
I learned a lot from my coach and other footballers at that time such as Ngoc Mai, Kim Hong and Kim Chi. I was called up to the national team in 2004. I felt both happy and worried because many people put their hopes on me.
Inner Sanctum: Did you have any support from your family?
Initially, I faced strong opposition from my mother. She did not want me to play football. I had to hide from her to attend training sessions. Eventually, my father and coach helped me to persuade my mother to let me play, and she agreed. Since then, she has always supported and encouraged me.
Inner Sanctum: You have trained very hard to become Viet Nam's best goalkeeper. Could you tell us how you did it?
Eighteen years in football is a long time. To play this long, I have trained hard and even faced with injuries, which sometimes discouraged me. However, with encouragement from my family, coach and colleagues, I have tried my best to follow my career. My love for the sport also helps me keep going.
Inner Sanctum: What has your career given and taken away from you?
Being a professional footballer gives me many things. I have the chance to live in a collective environment, which makes me more responsible, independent and know how to share success and failure with others. Besides, this career allows me to travel abroad a lot. Additionally, thank to the money, I built for my parents a more spacious house and one for me in my hometown. Most importantly, I can follow my passion for football.
The only loss is living far from my family.
Inner Sanctum: When you are far from your family, what do you miss most?
Family meals; sometimes, I crave canh chua (sour soup typically made with fish, tomatoes, bean sprouts, pineapples, etc) and ca loc kho to (caramelised snakehead fish in clay pot) cooked by my mother.
Inner Sanctum: What moments will you never forget from your career?
I have experienced both joy and sadness during my career, but the memory that sticks out is when the Viet Nam's national women's football team won the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2005 in the Philippines. It was the first time the team won the championship. My teammates and I burst into tears. It is difficult to express how happy we were.
Inner Sanctum: You have played football for 18 years now but still have passion for the game, how have you kept that love and what are your plans for the future?
Most players from my generation have retired. However, I still love playing football so much. It is part of my life. I plan to play for about two more years. Then I want to become a coach. — VNS