|Trần Thị Thùy Trang of HCM City (right) during the 2022 National Women's Football Championship. The captain was named the most valuable player of the tournament and HCM City win the title. Photo courtesy of VFF|
HÀ NỘI Trần Thị Thùy Trang was chosen to lead HCM City FC when captain Huỳnh Như went abroad in August. Through the trials and tribulations since Trang has proved she is the woman.
As well as losing their captain Như and four other key players, HCM City FCalso had to make do without their best defender Chương Thị Kiều, who was out with an injury.
But their absence didn't hold the team back too much, as they secured the domestic title for a record 11th time on Sunday. Trang, the oldest player in the tournament, was named most valuable player.
A late starter
Born in 1988 in the central province of Quảng Nam, Trang graduated from the HCM University Of Sport in 2010 and joined the HCM City FC in 2011.
|Trần Thị Thùy Trang (centre) celebrates her goal with a teammate during the 2022 National Women's Football Championship match against Phong Phú Hà Nam on Sunday. — Photo courtesy of VFF|
"I loved football since I was small. However, I had never thought of becoming a pro. I knew that a female player would face many career and life difficulties. But it is my destiny," said Trang.
At 22, Trang was several years late to start. As a result, she struggled to find her place in HCM City FC and the national team later.
"I was not trained properly about technique and tactics from a young age like other teammates. So it was difficult for me to catch up with them during training," Trang recalled.
"However, I worked two or three times harder than them to improve my endurance and sensitivity for competitions. I gradually managed knowledge, skills and experience and comfortably integrated with the club," she said.
The future football star was part of the national futsal team that won two silvers at the 26th and 27th SEA Games in 2011 and 2013.
|Trần Thị Thùy Trang (centre) during the 31st SEA Games semi-final match against Myanmar in May in Hà Nam Province. Việt Nam won 1-0 and went on to take the gold medal. — VNA/VNS Photo|
In 2014, Trang was back on the outdoor field and helped HCM City to dominate national leagues, winning seven championship trophies in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022; and two National Cups in 2020 and 2021.
"She is the most hard-working player in my club. She trains every day, including on days off. She is the oldest but strongest player. She is focused and works hard until the last minute. She is a role model for young players in terms of profession and spirit," said coach Đoàn Thị Kim Chi of HCM City.
Since her first national team appearance in 2015, Trang has become a key player. She has won the biennial SEA Games titles three times in a row from 2017 to 2022, along with one bronze and one gold from the AFF Cup.
"Trang is an important player in my team. She has a good tactical mind, smart playing style, the ability to reach the match and amazing fitness," said national head coach Mai Đức Chung.
"Her performances might influence the result of Việt Nam's matches," coach Chi said.
|Trần Thị Thùy Trang supports her captain Huỳnh Như during the 31st SEA Games against the Philippines on May 11. Although she is the oldest member of the team, she is the strongest one. VNA/VNS Photo|
"I can take charge of different positions but work best as a central midfielder. Small size is not a problem if you know how to use it. I am fast, sharp and can easily dribble past defenders," said Trang.
World Cup dream
Trang thought of quitting football several years ago when her family was in trouble. Her mother had stomach cancer and her father suffered a stroke. Her brother was killed in an accident in 2017.
"I wanted to go home to take care of them. But if I quit, there was no money to save my parents," said Trang, who chose to continue with football and worked as a part-time football referee to earn more to support her family.
"Football is deep in my blood. It is a passion, an indispensable part of my life," said Trang.
After failing to qualify for two World Cups, Trang and her teammates will join the most prominent global tournament for the first time in Australia and New Zealand next August.
|Trần Thị Thùy Trang (left) and Vietnamese players will enjoy the country's first World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next August. VNA/VNS Photo|
"Hope that at 35, I am still strong enough to compete in the World Cup, a dream of every player. I really want to contribute my best to Việt Nam at that dream event.
In May, Việt Nam defended their title at Cambodia's 2023 SEA Games.
"We will try our best to protect our No 1 position. The quality of ASEAN teams has developed rapidly. No team can secure top place or set up their domination for a long time without working hard," said Trang.
"It is a tough job, but we must make it happen." VNS