|When Việt Nam played Australia in the World Cup qualifiers last year, the Australian press compared the playing surface to a cow paddock. Photo laodong.vn|
Clearly my British side is showing, because for this week’s column, I want to talk about the weather.
I would say it rained cats and dogs over the weekend in Hà Nội, but that would be understating it. More like it rained lions, tigers, bears and everything in between.
The historic rainfall coupled with images of the shoddy surface of Mỹ Đình Stadium being fresh in my mind got me thinking about the future (and present) of football in Việt Nam.
Plenty of scientists far more intelligent and qualified than me say such extreme weather events are only going to increase in frequency as the century goes on, so I’m inclined to believe them.
Professional football is hardly the most important thing to dedicate resources to as we adapt to our changing climate, but I would say it’s also not the least important.
Humans need entertainment and a sense of belonging and football provides both in spades, but the beautiful game could go the way of the dodo in Việt Nam unless something drastic changes.
Already, the quality of playing surfaces at the top level in this country is inconsistent, to put it politely.
If clubs and indeed the national team set-up already struggle to keep their pitches well-maintained, what chance do they have in the near future as extreme rain and extreme heat are more common?
I can’t claim to know the first thing about maintaining grass as my experience in that department is limited to begrudgingly mowing lawns as a child.
But just as there are climate experts out there for laymen like me to lean on, there are expert groundsmen who do know how to protect a football pitch.
Do they exist in Việt Nam? There must be a few up and down the country, as the likes of Phố Hiến and Hoàng Anh Gia Lai have excellent playing surfaces.
However for the most part, it seems the majority of clubs have groundsmen who either lack the technical knowhow or resources to keep pitches in good order.
If it’s a case of the former, it likely wouldn’t cost the VFF or VPF an awful lot to bring in a few overseas groundsmen to run some training courses to get their Vietnamese peers up to speed.
If it’s the latter, then again, it wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to provide clubs with some funding solely to be used for pitch maintenance.
The powers that be should consider such investments as putting money away for the rainy days to come, and consider it well-spent. VNS