Explaining the reason for proffering the honour, football's world governing body said Vietnam successfully organised the national women's tournaments in 2020 thanks to its effective control of the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling referees and assistant referees to maintain their professional activities and form as well as to improve their capabilities.
Those objective assessments have contributed to affirming the prestige of Vietnamese sports as a whole in terms of not only women's football but also other events, in the context that the country is well implementing pandemic prevention and control measures to bring society back to normality. Last year, Vietnam's sport sector successfully organised 148 national competitions, especially the V.League 1-2020 national football championship with stadiums full of spectators, producing great surprise and winning admiration from international friends. In addition, Vietnam sent many teams to compete in 18 international tournaments, earning a haul of medals and five official berths at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. Vietnam maintained a stable training programme for national teams in all sports at the national sport training centre, while opening 16 referee and coach training classes, thus enabling referees, trainers, and athletes to continue improving and honing their professional skills. The aforementioned achievements are prideworthy as many international competitions and also national tournaments in other countries, even developed ones, were either cancelled or suspended for a long time, even for the whole year, significantly affecting the training, competition and professional qualifications of coaches and athletes.
International friends have recognised and highly appreciated Vietnam's COVID-19 prevention and control efforts, and are placing their trust in the country to host many international and regional sporting events this year. Specifically, Vietnam plans to host about 175 domestic and international tournaments in 2021, particularly the 31 st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games 31) and the 11 th ASEAN Para Games (ASEAN Para Games 11). Vietnam's efforts to prepare for the hosting of these two competitions in the context of multiple difficulties have demonstrated its sense of responsibility in uniting the ASEAN Community for the sustainable development of regional sports as well as its confidence in the good control of the pandemic and effective plans to successfully organise the Games.
Referee Bui Thi Thu Trang (second from right) and assistant referee Truong Thi Le Trinh (L) are the two Vietnamese representatives shortlisted to officiate at the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia/New Zealand 2023. (Photo: VFF)
To date, despite the complicated development of COVID-19, with timely prevention and control measures, Vietnam has put the disease under control, thereby step by step bringing socio-economic activities back to normal in the new situation, both combating the pandemic and maintaining socio-economic development. That is also the dual task of the nation's sport sector in 2021. Shortly after the Lunar New Year holiday, 17 national teams with 300 athletes have returned to training at the National Sports Training Centre in preparation for upcoming international competitions. V.League 1-2021 and the National First Division Tournament (V.League 2) will officially restart from March 13 and 19, respectively, with the strict observation of pandemic prevention and control regulations. In addition, the 62 nd Tien Phong Newspaper Marathon will be held this month in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai with the participation of more than 5,000 runners from 50 delegations. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is planning to launch the "All people take exercise following Uncle Ho's example" campaign for the 2021-2030 period and the Olympic Run Day for Public Health 2021 throughout the country if conditions allow.
Although the pandemic has been well controlled, there is no room for self-satisfaction and negligence, and top priority must be given to ensuring the safety of athletes and fans as sport activities are resumed. The experiences in pandemic prevention and control and sports management in 2020 should be promoted in a more drastic and thorough manner and maintained towards ensuring COVID-19 fight in parallel with the work of training, practising, and organising competitions. The General Department of Sports and Physical Training needs to regularly inspect and monitor units, tournament organisers and localities, while closely following the instructions of the health sector and the Government to prevent violations of regulations. In addition, members of the reconvening national teams must receive careful COVID-19 testing, perform medical declarations, and seriously implement pandemic prevention and control measures. It is the responsibility of the Department to constantly update information on the COVID-19 situation, apply timely solutions to adjust or suspend the tournaments, and carry out quarantine at training centres if the pandemic evolves complicatedly.
What is important is the joint efforts and unanimity of everyone, from sports managers at all levels to localities, the coaching staff, athletes and fans, in upholding a sense of responsibility and proactivity in combating the disease and protecting the health of their own and of the community.
The good resumption of sports training and competition in a safe community environment will offer a premise for Vietnam to prepare for important international tournaments in 2021 and continue to be one of the prominent examples of rising above the pandemic in regional and global sports.
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