An International Language in Vietnam

“When I first arrived in Vietnam I knew nothing of the language. Sure, I could say hello, goodbye, and thank you, but I could not truly understand them. However, I started to notice something. Everywhere we traveled, from the bustling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City to the rural villages of the Mekong Delta, there was passion shared by the Vietnamese people that even I, a foreigner who had never left North America, could completely understand. Our mutual connection was not made by language but developed through a love for the beautiful game that captivates millions around the globe. Walk down any street in Ho Chi Minh City and you’re bound to see any number of football fans proudly toting their favorite club’s jerseys, from Real Madrid to Juventus there is an unspoken solidarity between them. Start to look closely in any Vietnamese city and you are guaranteed to find football pitches tucked away between the buildings; maybe you will even be lucky enough see a match. I was fortunate enough to stumble across one of these stadiums in the middle of a match and what I saw made me feel more at home than anything I had experienced so far. I saw two competing sides trying desperately to defeat the other, playing not only with passion and ferocity but enjoying themselves as they played the game they love. Later on in the trip, once in Ho Chi Minh City and twice in the Mekong Delta, I was able to share my own infatuation for the game with the local students we met. Playing with them made me realize that through sports and competition we are able to make meaningful and lasting connections with people thousands of miles away from home. While we spoke a different language, we all lived an International Language, the language of Football. ” –Jeff