|HIGH HOPES: Phạm Đức Hoà of Việt Nam expects to place high in the coming SEA Games in Hà Nội. AFP/VNA Photo
Phạm Đức Hoà is the first Vietnamese futsal player invited to compete in the Spanish National Futsal League.
The 30-year-old can play as a fixo (defender) and an ala (midfielder) and is one of four Vietnamese to have competed in two FIFA Futsal World Cups, in 2016 and 2021, and finished in the top 16.
Hòa plays for Việt Nam national champions Thái Sơn Nam and has grabbed one Silver Ball and two Bronze Balls statues in votes for best futsal player of the year.
Despite remarkable results, Việt Nam and Hòa have never won a Southeast Asian (SEA) Games title. He talks with Nguyên Khang about his determination at the coming Games on home turf.
Inner Sanctum: You had a successful year in 2021 with both the national team and Thái Sơn Nam FC. How do you personally review your year?
Due to the pandemic, the national futsal championship was strongly affected and was cancelled. So I should evaluate myself with the national team.
I think I did a good job as a senior player training and helping young players in the team. I was a moral supporter for them to achieve good results at the Futsal World Cup 2021 in Lithuania.
Inner Sanctum: Việt Nam had an impressive performance at the World Cup but have not done the same thing in the SEA Games. Do you think winning the gold medal this May is possible?
In Southeast Asia, Việt Nam has shown poor results. This year the SEA Games is held in Hà Nội, and I have set my targets. First, I must make the national team. Second, we must win the trophy.
It is not that I create high pressure for myself but it is a goal to strive for.
Playing at home will be one of our advantages. If we have a good result at the SEA Games we can earn a berth at the Asian championship next year.
Inner Sanctum: Thailand has been stronger than Việt Nam in futsal for many years. But in two World Cups both two sides finished in the top 16. Do you think the gap between the two teams has narrowed?
Previously, Việt Nam suffered huge losses when playing Thailand. However, in recent years it has been close. In our last match in Phú Thọ Stadium three years ago, they beat us 2-0. It was a good match for Việt Nam. The two conceded goals were individual mistakes.
The gap between the two teams has narrowed a lot. The problem is players' mentality during competition. If we do not make mistakes and give them opportunities, we will have a chance to win.
|BATTLER: Phạm Đức Hòa of Việt Nam (right) battles for possession with Tomas Vnuk of the Czech Republic during the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2021 group D match on September 19, 2021, in Lithuania. — AFP/VNA Photo
Inner Sanctum: Apart from Thailand, what team must Việt Nam keep eyes on at the SEA Games?
The Indonesian Futsal League is developing strongly with support from foreign coaches. Coach Hector Souto, former assistant to Việt Nam's head coach, is working with a club in Indonesia. A Thai trainer who used to work at Chonburi, a very strong club in Thailand, is also there.
Indonesia has agreed to let its players compete abroad. Their national championship has been lifted with young and quality players. So they might be a tough rival.
Inner Sanctum: Việt Nam's futsal is improving fast but we cannot be satisfied where we are. What should we do to improve the position of Việt Nam in the region and world?
The national championship needs the participation of more clubs, leading to more games. The tournament should be organised following the home and away format and each club should have at least one foreign player.
I took part in training with the national team abroad and also competed in the Spanish league. I believe by training and competing with foreign players we learn a lot of things including technique and mentality. They are really professional. By learning from them, we will improve our quality.
Inner Sanctum: You mention learning from foreign players. What have you learnt from your time in Spain.?
First is their way of practising, really professional. Although it is training they play aggressively and seriously like in a competition. They consider the other side their rivals, not their teammates anymore.
In Việt Nam, it is not right to say we are not serious but our players do not play their best because they are afraid of injuries.
Second is nutrition. Foreign players take care of themselves carefully. When they have any problem, they immediately consult the coaching board and the specialist in charge. Taking care of your health to ensure strong competition and training is always the most important thing. That's what I appreciated and learned from them.
Inner Sanctum: Việt Nam has a small number of futsal players trained since they were young. For example, you move to futsal after playing football while goalkeeper Hồ Văn Ý and midfielder Nguyễn Văn Hiếu were previously amateur players. Is that a weak point?
Currently, only the Thái Sơn Nam FC has a programme training young players who will be the next generation of the club.
I think other clubs should do the same. If players are trained from when they are kids they will grow stronger. Being well trained and having good coaches means our young players will make the most of their potential.
|GAME ON: Phạm Đức Hoà of Việt Nam (left) fights for the ball with Mohd Ridzwan Bakri of Malaysia during the AFC Futsal Championship Chinese Taipei 2018 match on February 1, 2018 in Taiwan. AFP/VNA Photo
Inner Sanctum: We just celebrated the Lunar New Year. What do you wish for the new year?
I want Việt Nam to have a better result in Southeast Asia, with the first one being the SEA Games title.
When Việt Nam team has a remarkable result, people will feel happy and will be more interested in futsal. VNS