Okay, let’s be honest about it. When you talk about Vietnam there are very few people whose immediate thought process lands on the topic of sports.
That doesn’t mean the country doesn’t have a huge passion for them though. Here we look at the most popular sports in Vietnam to showcase exactly what the nation’s sporting interests are about.
Depending on where you are reading this from you might want to rebrand this section as soccer; in Vietnam though the ‘game of kicks’ is known as football. Their history as a nation is fairy limited given they were operating as two teams for a long time whilst they are still waiting for a player to truly make it amongst Europe’s most respected leagues.
That said, since their V-League was formed in 1980 the reputation and popularity has grown at quite an alarming rate. There are now four tiers to the men’s game with a separate women’s league too.
The international scene isn’t one where Vietnam get much focus but their youngsters finished as runners up in the Under 23 AFC Championship in 2018 and, although they’ve not yet made it to a World Cup, Qatar 2022 isn’t out of reach just yet. The future could be very bright.
Okay, it’s fair to say this sport wouldn’t have ranked too highly up your list of the most popular sports in Vietnam predictions. Badminton is a big deal though. The entire country is geared up for people to practice the sport with free to use courts dotted around everywhere and there are plenty who choose to utilise those spaces with the racquet sport one of the most played in the country.
Unlike in football, in a competitive environment, Vietnam are well respected for their performance levels in the sport with the now 38-year-old Nguyen Tien Minh having a huge amount of success in the well followed BWF Grand Prix, Southeast Asian Games and both the Asian and World Championships.
Unlike football and badminton, which are rooted in the Vietnam history books, basketball is more of a growing sport – but it is gaining interest a fairly rapid rate. The country have been part of FIBA – the international basketball body – since 1952 but have struggled to achieve anything of note; their best performance came in 2019 as they finished third at the Southeast Asian games.
Only within the last few years have rights to NBA viewing arrived though. It would seem that watching the likes of Lakers star LeBron James and one of the best point guards in NBA history in Steph Curry (click here to see TwinSpires full list) has invigorated the nation. Youngsters now play at amateur levels and a professional league was launched in 2016.
It has to be said that the Vietnamese’s love for Aussie Rules is one that catches a lot of people off guard but it’s long been ingrained in the public’s mind. The first record of Aussie Rules being played in the country dates back to the Vietnam war with a match breaking out between members of the 5th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. You have to fast forward some years before anything formalised around the NFL meets rugby like game though. The sport became recognised in a professional capacity just a couple of years before the millennium and Vietnam are now represented in the AFL Asian League, which has over 1,500 registered players.
There you have it, a look at the most popular sports in Vietnam. It acts as proof that the country is more than just tourism hotspot with crystal clear waters!