Forward in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

A friend from the USA wrote: “It was very moving to see the Vietnamese football players sing the national anthem in the first match against the US team.” In a moment that made history, the Vietnam women’s national football team advanced to the final round of the FIFA World Cup, the 2023 World Cup, for the first time.

Despite the psychological readiness of the fans to get a “basket” of goals in the opening match, our players presented themselves to the world with a mature and hardworking style, the final result, despite the loss, nevertheless delighted domestic fans.

Recognizing the difference in class, the Vietnam women’s team began with a deep defensive formation, with the same overt intent to minimize the number of goals conceded by the US women’s soccer team, the reigning world champions. However, Team USA’s strength was unstoppable, and the 3-0 final score did not reflect their full strength.

During the first match at the World Cup, the inferiority of the Vietnamese women’s team was reflected in the balls, which could only be deployed to the middle of the field to be taken by the opposing team.

Promotion in the 2023–1 FIFA Women's World Cup

The Vietnamese women’s team performed the national anthem at the World Cup arena (Photo: Getty).

We were worried only in defense, there was no situation to organize an attack or shoot through the opponent’s goal, but it was difficult for the viewers at home to tear themselves away from the screen, because they did not see lost faces, anxious eyes, a helpless, surrendered mood. On the contrary, the willpower, professional style, and tenacity of the Vietnamese tennis players made it impossible for the US women’s team to beat the Vietnamese team by score, which they have repeatedly done with other teams.

From a technical standpoint, it is predicted that failures will affect the performance of the entire team and, of course, the accompanying material benefits. However, it’s not about prize money, the coaching staff and female players must have decided that competing with the best teams in the world in the official and largest tournament, the center of sports that attracts the attention of the whole world, is an invaluable reward for the Vietnamese women’s football team.

We can lose, however humiliating, but they are certainly precious losses, because they help us to know more about ourselves, to understand more clearly where we are and what needs to be done next.

When professional achievement is not the goal, sports diplomacy becomes the top priority. The attitude, style, gameplay, facial expressions, smiles, words… of the coaching staff and female players during the tournament will help friends from all over the world to better represent the country and people of Vietnam.

I think that if we continue to play the same way we played the game against the US, then every subsequent match of the Vietnamese women’s team in the Women’s World Cup this year will deepen the positive image of the Vietnamese people by fans around the world.

In life, people with a sense of self-worth and progress can accept “losing” in certain situations, but they certainly will not be “despised” or “pitied.” This principle should become the playing philosophy of the Vietnamese women’s team in the next matches against too strong girlfriends.

That is, female players not only have to work to overcome their own limits, forcing your team to lose physical and mental strength to achieve the goal, but also to keep the home team from falling into a broken position. Losing 3-5-7 goals is not important, but it is more important to quickly bring the ball onto the field and uncontrollably turn your football around, not to let the score negatively affect the psychology of the game.

The general spirit of all sports is “fair play”. That is why we need to show our teams that we can play in any situation, make the most of every moment on the field, and not get stuck in a situation where we just chase the ball, panic and break the ball to protect the goal at all costs. The attitude needs to be defined: we may lose out on results, but we certainly won’t lose out to your team on training and morale, a sense of “fair play” and professional sportsmanship.

In this way, our women’s soccer team can convey the positive message of the sport and the color of the jersey.

Meeting the defending champions and runners-up right in the group stage may be unfortunate for Vietnamese female players, but happens to present us with an interesting coincidence – a remarkable achievement in women’s football compared to men’s football on the world stage, with both the US and Vietnam. If the US men’s soccer teams have never been contenders for the championship in the world championships in which they participate, the women’s team has confirmed the position of the absolute leader with a record number of times in the top three and won the championship.

Similarly, no matter how many times it has won the Southeast Asian regional tournaments and participated in the continental court, the fact that the Vietnam women’s national football team entered the list of 32 teams for the 2023 World Cup for the first time was a historic milestone, which is unknown when our country’s men’s national football team will be able to do so.

In any country, the success of women’s football is not just a testament to the progress of this sport. Through outstanding achievements, despite generally modest interest and investment, women players have brought the message of gender equality and mutual development to all members of society.

Vietnam’s national anthem was played proudly at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. I hope this will motivate and inspire not only the female players, but also all the best athletes in Vietnam. From there we will be able to see and hear how Tien Quan sound in many continental and world level tournaments.

In a deeper sense, with the absolute benefits of royal sport, the development of women’s football will have a positive impact on gender equality awareness and action in many different areas. Thus, contributing to the implementation of the principle of mutual development, every person, regardless of whether he is a man or a woman, has favorable opportunities and equal conditions for the development of all his abilities and the achievement of those values ​​that he highly values.

Despite the shortcomings in physical fitness, the outstanding achievements and contribution of women’s football in our country over the past three decades make more attention to women’s football, from encouraging girls to play football to improve their health, to the organization of women’s football clubs, and soon a more complete and professional national championship.

Author: Mr. Nguyen Van Dang holds a PhD in Public Administration and Politics from the Nguyen School of Public Administration. Mark O. Hatfield of Portland State University, USA. He currently works at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics.

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