|Forward Vũ Thị Hoa of Việt Nam (left) runs a ball away from Cambodian players during their 32nd SEA Games match. Hoa is a young talent of Team Việt Nam at the 2023 Women's World Cup in mid-July. Photo thethao247.vn|
At the age of 20, Vũ Thị Hoa has been the main breadwinner in her family for several years, helping her mother take care of three younger siblings.
Part of her salary as a footballer is sent home every month so that her younger brother and sisters can have meat in their daily meals and continue studying.
Poverty and responsibility have made Hoa a strong woman who keeps smiling and working hard no matter what.
She is one of Việt Nam's 23 "diamond girls" to compete at the Australia/New Zealand 2023 FIFA World Cup that could change her life forever.
Dreams of her father
Hoa was born in 2003 in Đô Lương District of Nghệ An Province. Her family was one of the poorest in their village.
|Forward Vũ Thị Hoa of Việt Nam (left) seen in training in Hà Nội in preparation for the FIFA Women's World Cup. — Photo laodong.vn|
The poor life forced her to work hard from when she was a little girl. Though busy, she still found time for football and showed off her potential, which made her father believe she was a talent.
In 2015, Hoa's father took her to Hà Nội to take a recruitment test for Hà Nội 1 FC (Hà Nội 1 Women's Football Club).
At first the recruiters did not think the small girl could qualify, but still gave her a chance. And they were finally persuaded with Hoa's determination, strong mindedness and silky skills.
“We were so happy when I was accepted. My father and I could not hold our tears. At that time, I promised my father and myself that I would always work hard so that I would not waste the chances that my father and coaches gave to me," said Hoa.
Hoa made it. She not only became the captain of her team, but also earned a slot for the national junior team.
She won a bronze from the AFF Girls U13 Championship, a bronze from the AFF Girls U15 Championship, two golds from the AFF U16 Girls Championship, and three National Women's U19 Football Championship.
|Forward Vũ Thị Hoa receives a trophy for the best young player of the 2022 football season from national head coach Mai Đức Chung. — Photo thethao247.vn|
But life was tough for her when her father suddenly died after an occupational accident in 2018. Hoa unexpectedly became the bread winner in the family.
“I could not believe in my eyes and could not believe that he died. It was the biggest loss in my life. I was really desperate. My mother told me the best way to let my father rest in peace was to work harder for his dream to come true,” Hoa said.
The 15-year-old saved part of her monthly allowance to help her mother raise her siblings.
“Normally, I send part of the allowance. Whenever I took in tournaments, if my team won, I would get a bonus and could send her more than usual," said Hoa, who worked harder for better fitness and to get as many bonuses as possible.
Her effort brought sweet results as she was the top scorer with nine goals and voted the best young player of the 2022 season, and was called to the national senior team for the first time aged 19.
The Cambodia 32nd SEA Game in May was the first and the biggest international tournament that she took part.
|Forward Vũ Thị Hoa (right) is confident ahead of the World Cup where Việt Nam will face the strongest rivals in the world. VNA/VNS Photo|
The 19-year-old was not the first choice of coach Mai Đức Chung in the front line, but she always delivered her best whenever she was on the field.
"I was not pleased with my performance in Phnom Penh because I did not show off my best and made mistakes. My fitness and tactical mind need to be improved," Hoa said.
"But I was thrilled with a gold in my first time at the SEA Games. I learnt a lot from my coaches and senior teammates. The gold medal was a great present for my debut and also a strong push for me."
She also revealed that a bonus from the SEA Games victory would be used to build a new house for the family.
"It was a considerable amount of money for me. I will save more money and use it for a new home. I have had this plan for years," she said.
Future of Việt Nam
As Việt Nam are in New Zealand for the July 20 to August 20 event, Hoa is one of the two youngest members of the squad, which will play the world's strongest rivals.
"Hoa is a player who can cover a large area. She is also good in ground and aerial duels. Of course, she still has a lot to improve, but I realise that some of her qualities are better than seniors in the team. This will be one of the factors to look forward to," said coach Chung.
It was also the reason that he picked the young player for the nation's historic World Cup campaign.
"She is young, talented and with great potential. I want to give her a chance at the World Cup as part of a plan to strengthen her abilities. Her chance to play is not guaranteed yet because it will depend on our tactics against each rival," said Chung.
|Forward Vũ Thị Hoa (centre) and teammates thank supporters after their 32nd SEA Games victory in May in Cambodia. Photo nld.com.vn|
"We do not want to put pressure on her as it may cause bad results. I want to save her for the future of the national team. She will shoulder heavy duty in the front line when her senior teammates retire. "
During a training tour in Europe recently, Hoa was put on the field in a friendly match against Germany. She nearly made a big bang in the 85th minute when she left all German defenders behind and was in a one-on-one with the goalkeeper Merle Frohms. Her finish, however, was not sharp enough to bag a goal for Việt Nam.
"I regret that one, as it was a very threatening opportunity. I have to strengthen my skills. It was my first time in Europe, and I was nervous competing against such a powerful rival. However, I learnt many things from them. My teammates and I are more confident than ever," Hoa said.
As the world governing body FIFA has promised to deliver each World Cup player at least US$30,000, Hoa will have enough cash to build her new home as she wishes.
The future looks bright for this dedicated young footballer. VNS