​Foreign “sports missionaries” make their mark in Vietnam

The growing popularity of foreign sports, such as hockey and rugby, in Vietnam began with foreigners who have made it their passion to feed the country’s athletic appetite. James Chew, a Singaporean businessman credited with introducing hockey to Vietnam is just one of these athletes.  Chew began working in the country ten years ago but refused to leave his love for hockey behind in Singapore. In 2007, he hosted the first Hockey Festival in Vietnam, growing the event over the past ten years to include 400 participants and an audience of several hundred.  “Apart from family and work, hockey is also my life,” said Chew.  “I used to be a professional hockey player in Singapore,” he added.  Not only does he focus on recruiting players to the sport, Chew also covers equipment and pitch rental fees. “Vietnamese people don’t know much about hockey. I have to build everything from the ground up.” Chew’s dedication to promoting the sport has paid off – the country now boasts a hockey federation and national team. The businessman also visits schools with Huynh Dai Phuc, the national team’s coach to invite students to try their hand at hockey.  “It isn’t easy,” said Phuc. “Hockey uses sticks, which makes people think it is dangerous. But those who try it realize that it is totally safe.  We try to make our sport stand out, to make it look exciting and energetic so that people, especially youngsters, join us.” Vietnam’s hockey community is centered in the southern… [Read full story]

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