Saturday, 26 November 2016 14:50

She Will Be Strong

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Empowering women through sport. Words by Harry Hodge. Photo by Bao Zoan


Nga Le has come a long way in the sporting world. And she’s hoping to carve out a path for other Vietnamese women to boost health and fitness here.


The 28-year-old from Hue was selected to be the first-ever Vietnamese citizen to participate in the Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP). The programme has been running for four years and selects and provides 16 female leaders yearly from all over the world involved in the sports industry to participate in its powerful educational programme. The aim is to inspire, educate and support future women leaders, most of all in sports. It takes place over six weeks in the US, sponsored by ESPN W and The US State Department.


“This experience transformed me,” she explains. “It opened up my eyes and mind to the possibilities and potential of how powerful women can be. I understand more about sports and women’s rights, with a strong belief in the mission of empowering women through sports.”


On a Mission


Nga returned to Vietnam and founded SHE WILL BE STRONG, geared to create tools for Vietnamese women to be fit in body and mind. Nga and her six-person team have conducted numerous workshops, with the most recent reaching 60 participants. These sessions feature inspiring stories and organise activities to connect women together and encourage each other for positive lifestyles.


The non-profit organisation’s aim is to bring changes to women’s mindsets and routines, and then make the change of every woman’s destiny in a positive way, meaning women will be happier. Right now, they offer free workshops for women under the concept “Discover and Create Your Most Beautiful You.”


Workshops focus on concepts like health and fitness, leadership, creativity and taking action. The group is planning to hold more community projects and support education projects in the months and years to come. Yoga and basketball will be launched later this year or early next year. A big-sister mentorship programme has been established as well.


“Sports builds confidence and character,” says Nga. “It also builds mental toughness and challenges people to break barriers and overcome challenges.”


According to Nga, sports are a part of Vietnam’s education system, but more integration to encourage female participation is needed.


“Often, girls shy away from sports more than boys at an early age,” she explains. “Introducing sports in the school system helps provide a platform for cooperation, sacrifice and mutual respect.”


Visit or the group’s Facebook page for more information



Aussie Claims Vietnam Open Title


No 4 seed Jordan Thompson won the Vietnam Open tennis tournament last month in Ho Chi Minh City, according to Vietnam News.


The Australian came from behind to defeat Japanese rival Go Soeda, who was seeded No 6, 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 to take the men’s singles title.


Thompson, who was the runner-up last year, enjoyed a US$7,200 payday and 90 points to improving his world ranking.


MMA Centre Launches in Ho Chi Minh City


The operator of Saigon Sports Club (SSC), a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Cross-Training centre, held an inaugural ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City last month, according to Tuoi Tre.


Speaking at the grand opening, Vuong Bich Thang, head of the Vietnam Sports Administration, hoped that the club would attract lots of members and become a playground for sports fans and martial arts followers, according to news website Van Hoa Online (VHO) run by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.


One of the goals of the centre is designing professional training programmes to sharpen the skills of young fighters in Vietnam to prepare them for international competitions like the Olympic Games, the website reported.


Covering 7,500 square meters of training area with cutting-edge equipment, the SSC is considered to be Asia’s largest Mixed Martial Arts and Cross-Training centre, according to the sports centre’s website.


Argentine’s Passport Swap Bolsters SHB Danang


The SHB Danang team has completed procedures to secure Vietnamese citizenship for Argentina-born striker Gaston Merlo ahead of the next V.League season, according to Vietnam News.


The team confirmed to Vietnam News that SHB would strengthen their squad with more foreign players in an effort to win the V.League 1 next year.


Merlo was top scorer in the V.League 1 last season with 24 goals, the fourth time he finished as the league’s top marksman.


Director of SHB Danang Sport Stock Company, Bui Xuan Hoa said Merlo wishes to stay in Danang as his family is used to the city after having lived there for several years. He said the team revved up the procedure for him playing in the new football season that begins in early 2017.


The Vietnam Football Federation allows each team to play with two foreigners in a match, once Merlo becomes a Vietnamese citizen he will no longer count as a foreign player. The Argentinean striker has scored 92 goals between 2008 and 2016 for SHB.


Last week, the team re-signed Brazilian forward Teofilo Soares Eydison, who played his first season for the team in 2016.


Vietnam Bags Medals by the Dozen


Vietnam took the top spot at the fifth Asian Beach Games that concluded last month in Danang, however local experts are more concerned than thrilled as it gave little indication about the development of the country’s high performance sports stars, according to Tuoi Tre.


Vietnamese athletes bagged 52 gold, 44 silver and 43 bronze medals at the fifth edition of the Asian Beach Games (ABG5), which began on Sep. 24.


In comparison, all-time ABG medal count champion Thailand was the runner-up with 36 gold medals, while sports giant China ranked third with 12 golds.


The unprecedented achievement of Vietnam’s team was not a cause for celebration however, as many believed it did not reflect an advancement in the country’s high-performance sports.


Vietnam sent a total of 320 athletes to compete in 14 sports at ABG5, setting an initial goal of claiming between 18 and 22 gold medals and making it to the top five in terms of medal count.

Last modified on Saturday, 26 November 2016 14:55
Harry Hodge

Harry Hodge has written for publications across Canada and Asia, including Metro Edmonton, 24 Hours Toronto, the Korea Herald and many more. In Vietnam you've either read his sports column or seen him pitching skin cream in Vietnamese TV commercials. Follow him on Twitter at @hodgedude or send him a note about your sports events at

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