|Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Dung, midfielder for Việt Nam’s national women’s football team. Photo thethaovanhoa.vn|
Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Dung, 25, is a midfielder for Việt Nam’s national women’s football team. She won the Việt Nam Golden Ball and Silver Ball awards in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
In a match against Malaysia in 2015, she scored two goals directly from corners. The first goal was scored with her left foot and the second with her right foot. She was featured on FIFA’s home page in an article in which the world football governing agency appreciated her incredible scoring skills. Many prestigious newspapers and television channels, including The Mirror, Eurosport, 101greatgoals, YouTube and Dailymotion, ran stories and video clips about her and her goals.
Dung was named on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 100 Women 2017 List. The list pays tribute to 100 influential and inspiring women around the world. Dung was the first Vietnamese athlete to be featured on the list. She talks to Bùi Quỳnh Hoa about her passion for football and her dream to compete at FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in 2019.
Inner Sanctum: Could you tell us something about yourself?
I’m Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Dung, 25, a midfielder in Việt Nam’s national women’s football team. I was born in Đồn Xá Village in Hà Nam Province’s Bình Lục District.
I love playing football, tennis and volleyball.
Inner Sanctum: Describe the early days when you first became a football player? Who inspired you to play the sport?
I joined the sport very simply and naturally. When I was a little girl, I used to play football with my male friends. One day, after hearing an advertisement on the radio for football enrolment, my uncle suggested my parents should give me the chance to try playing professionally. I then started to play for Phong Phú Hà Nam Club in 2006 (when I was 13) and for the national women’s football team in 2011.
My idol is Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s the one who inspires me to follow the sport confidently. And now, I also wear the same No 7 jersey as my Portuguese idol.
Inner Sanctum: Why did you choose this tough sport to devote yourself to while most other girls prefer to be gentle and attractive in others’ eyes?
Yes, you are right. As usual, girls want to be attractive and beautiful in others’ eyes, especially in men’s.
I’m not an exception. But my passion for football is deeper. I wish I could play well as my idol does. Playing cleverly and scoring skilfully are also a kind of attraction that should be respected, I think.
Inner Sanctum: What awards in football have you won so far?
My awards in football so far are The Best Player awards at the national U19 women’s football championships in 2011 and 2014, the Việt Nam Golden Ball in 2014, the Silver Ball in 2015, and the gold medal in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in 2017. In particular, our national team has qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France next year.
Inner Sanctum: In an article on its home page, FIFA said: “Scoring directly from a corner is something rarely seen, even among the world’s most established stars. However, a young woman from Việt Nam showed a superlative technique by finding the back of the net from corner kicks twice in a single match.” It also said: “She did more than just scoring from two corners; she did so with both feet.”
Your goals were also mentioned in many major newspapers and TV channels such as The Mirror, Eurosport, 101greatgoals, Youtube and Dailymotion.
How did you feel about this?
Of course, I was very proud. And I was also so surprised to be featured in such well-known newspapers and channels.
I’m not sure if I could do it again [smiling].
To me, all goals are important to help our team achieve success.
Inner Sanctum: It is the first time in history that you, a Vietnamese female athlete, have been named on the BBC’s 100 Women 2017 List. How do you feel about this?
I don’t know how to describe my joy, surprise, happiness and pride.
I think that was a strong motivating force to push myself further to do the job better and to contribute more and more to the national team, to our country, and especially to our lovely Vietnamese supporters.
Inner Sanctum: What is the key to your success? Who supported you in achieving your current success in the sport?
The key to the success of our team always lies in being confident, playing our best, and playing for the country and for our fans.
To achieve today’s successes, I have to note the great support from my parents, my family, my teachers and my coaches. One of my mentors is Chen Yun Fa, a Chinese manager who called me to the national team and who laid the foundation for the progress of Việt Nam during his seven-year term, from 2007-2014. He is more than a coach; he is a teacher. He was so strict, so every player on the team focussed 100 per cent on their training.
Inner Sanctum: Could you say something about the difficulties you faced in your career?
Success never comes easily. Every athlete has to leave behind his/her own issues to perform for the nation. I’m not an exception. Although I have suffered from rough skin, with scars and grazes and numerous injuries, I do have to focus 100 per cent (sometimes 200 per cent) on training and competing.
This is a normal thing a professional athlete has to face, though it is never easy, especially for women.
Inner Sanctum: Football is a king’s game. But a football player’s life is not very long, and talent and luck can only spark for a short period in a lifetime. If you had the chance to do it all over again, would you still choose to devote yourself to this sport?
Yes, you are right. An athlete’s life is very short and a football player may have to suffer many serious injuries, and for many, talent and luck can only spark for a short period in a lifetime.
However, I have never regretted my choice. Football is my passion, my life. Sweet results come after great efforts, I believe.
Inner Sanctum: What are your dreams for the sport, going forward?
I dream of more football fans turning up at stadiums to support us as they do for a men’s team.
I dream of getting a ticket to compete in the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, after winning an SEA Games title. I have not forgotten our loss to Thailand, which cost us the World Cup slot three years ago. I hope we make it this time.
And I dream of one day having the chance to play in one of the major women’s leagues in a country like China, Japan or South Korea. VNS