HCM City players celebrate after beating Hà Nội Watabe 1 during their match at the National Women's Football Championship last year. HCM City will defend their title as the tournament is scheduled on May 18-August 6. — Photo nld.com.vn
HÀ NỘI — Phong Phú Hà Nam 1 will play Sơn La in the opening match of the National Women's Football Championship on May 18 in the northern province of Hà Nam.
The tournament, sponsored by Thái Sơn Bắc Electric Equipment Trading Company, will feature new team Phong Phú Hà Nam 2 to make a total of nine participants.
It will be held in a two-leg round-robin format. The first leg is from May 18 to June 20 at Hà Nam Stadium and Hà Nội's Thanh Trì Stadium. The second leg is from July 4 to August 6 with the venue to be confirmed later.
The organisers will apply new FIFA rules that allow teams to make up to five substitutes per game, up from three, to be made across three windows.
The winners will receive VNĐ300 million (US$13,000) from the sponsors. The best goalkeeper, top scorer and best overall player will also get individual bonuses.
Last year, HCM City took the title with one game to spare. Hà Nội Watabe 1 came second and Quảng Ninh Coal and Minerals finished third.
In 23 seasons of competition, Hà Nội Watabe 1 and HCM City have dominated with 10 and nine titles, respectively.
It is also the 10th year in a row Thái Sơn Bắc Company has been involved in the championship.
"Ten years is not a long period in comparison with a human life but it is pretty long for a sponsor who has been attached with the tournament through ups and downs, especially women's football which is not as popular as the men's game," said Bùi Đình Tế, Thái Sơn Bắc chairman of the board of directors.
"But we are happy because during that time Việt Nam women's football has not only remained but also developed in both the amateur and professional field. This year's event will be played when the COVID-19 is still around but it is really important because it is a kind of pre-SEA Games competition. We hope that it will be a successful tournament and the players will show their talent to become national team members to defend their title at the coming Games," said Tế at the sponsorship signing ceremony on Monday in Hà Nội.
Speaking at the ceremony, Việt Nam Football Federation General Secretary Lê Hoài Anh said the support of Thái Sơn Bắc Company played a key role in developing women's football.
Despite challenges and obstacles, the national tournament is highly competitive and an ideal environment to nurture players' passion and aspiration to contribute to the country, he said.
Teams are now competing in the third National Cup in Hà Nội on April 20-May 8. They will have 10 days rest before the national championship. — VNS