Aug 11, 2009


ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) honorary general secretary Dato’ Paul Mony Samuel has lauded Vietnam’s Thanh Nien-sponsored U21 football tournaments.

Samuel said Thanh Nien has done an excellent job organizing the U21 national tournament for 13 consecutive years and the U21 for the past three years. That is a great achievement, Samuel said.

He made the statement to Thanh Nien reporters before the opening of the U19 Southeast Asian Football Championship finals, which started on Tuesday in Ho Chi Minh City.“It indicates that you are very consistent and have made big contributions to the growth of Vietnamese football. The biggest achievement was the AFF Cup 2008 championship,” Samuel said.

Asked what he thinks about the current state of youth football in Vietnam, Samuel said he had been tracking the development of Vietnamese football for more than 15 years and could see that the sport has made huge strides in the country, especially in youth training.“However, more improvements should be made,” Samuel added. “Remember that youth training is always very hard and requires a lot of time, money and effort.
“I think youth training is much harder than organizing a competition for clbs or national squads. You must be very patient.”When asked what criteria are necessary to develop a talented pool of youth footballers in Southeast Asia, especially in Vietnam, Samuel said three elements were required. First, a body of excellent trainers is needed. Secondly, money and time are very important. Finally and most importantly, there is a need for regular competitions so young players can gain experience, Samuel said.

“Basically, they are not very experienced because they haven’t had many opportunities to compete. Apart from competitions organized by AFF, there is almost nothing.”
Meanwhile, in Vietnam, Thanh Nien has done a very impressive job of setting up the U21 football tournament, a good competition for young players, according to Samuel.
For a decade, Thanh Nien has cooperated with the Vietnam Football Federation to hold the U21 national tournament and three years ago initiated the U21 international tournament, creating a chance for countries in the region to improve their youth football.
It is wonderful to have 36 U21 squads from V-League and First Division clubs to compete in the qualifying round before selecting the best eights for the finals, Samuel said.
“In Malaysia, where I live, it is very hard to organize a competition for
Concerning the U21 international tournament, Samuel said Thanh Nien should invite national teams in the region first before considering more powerful ones like China or Iran.
It may be better to first invite national teams from Southeast Asia, then move on to East Asian teams like Japan and South Korea before taking on teams from West Asia or the Persian Gulf, Samuel said. Such a strategy would be a good way to gradually increase competitiveness for the U21 international tournament.

Reported by Quang Tuyen – Giang Lao

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