They gather on Mondays, just off of Thao Dien in Saigon. They hail from countries around the globe, but the goal is the same: netball supremacy in Ho Chi Minh City.
Games are played on a rectangular court with raised goal rings at each end. Each team attempts to score goals by passing a ball down the court and shooting it through its goal ring, not unlike basketball. Players are assigned specific positions, which define their roles within the team and restrict their movement to certain areas of the court. A player with the ball can hold on to it for only three seconds during regular play before shooting for a goal or passing to a teammate. Predictably, the winning team is the one that scores the most goals.
“The good news is that most beginners I’ve seen end up being very good after a single season,” says Saigon netball veteran Chris Salmon. “Because netball has dedicated positions on the court, beginners can focus on a specific role in a team to get used to the speed and the rules.
“We also hold more social games and training sessions that are great for new players that want to improve their skills.”
The Australian expat added that while netball is a Commonwealth sport, with many of the club’s members from the UK, Australia and New Zealand, players from all countries are able to get a good handle on the sport fairly quickly.
“I think that for most of the teams in the competition, the team size of seven players means that it’s a perfect after-hours activity for a group of work colleagues or a bunch of friends to socialise.”
With an annual womens-only tournament in Bangkok in May where Saigon have traditionally sent two teams, there are also international matches on the horizon. There was also a women’s and a mixed team at Vietnam’s first ever Central Games in Danang in February, playing against the Hanoi netball side.
“We are hoping to arrange more competitive games in the coming year against other teams in Asia,” says Chris.
All games are held at the AIS ground in Thao Dien, District 2. The netball court is right behind the swimming pool, next to the An Phu shops. During the season, games are on Monday nights between 6pm and 9pm and generally go for 40 to 45 minutes. The team cost is VND10 million per season and covers all game fees and social functions.
Obstacle Course Dashing to Hanoi
Following the success of the Dragon Dash in the spring in Ho Chi Minh City, the D.A.R.E. group is bringing their brand of obstacle course competition north to Hanoi this Halloween.
Champion Dash will take place on Oct. 31 in the Ecopark planned township, providing the backdrop for a unique opportunity to explore mixed terrain obstacle course racing at its finest. Participants will be challenged by over 15 obstacles, spanning several kilometers of leaping through flames, climbing walls and barricades, crawling, balancing, splashing and swinging your way through the course.
Competitive waves will start at 6.30 a.m. Once the competitive waves set off, all other Champion Dash participants will take off from the starting line every 15 minutes until all waves are complete.
Solo packages start from VND400,000, with group rates available. For more info, visit ticketbox.vn, the Champion Dash Facebook page or championdash.com
Heat at Home for Halloween ABL tip-off
After yet another lengthy gap between seasons, the ASEAN Basketball League is back in action this October, with the Saigon Heat ready to take on all comers. The Vietnamese squad will be looking to build on last year’s first-ever playoff appearance, with Tony Garbelotto taking the reins as head coach following the passing of former bench boss Jason Rabedeaux.
Filipino teams have returned to the circuit this season, with boxer Manny Pacquiao backing the PACMAN Mindanao Aguilas squad. The Singapore Slingers will be the visiting squad when the Heat open their home schedule on Oct. 31 at 6pm. Home games will be once again held at the Canadian International School in District 7. Defending champions Hi-Tech Bangkok City will be in town on Jan. 16.
Look for updates on the team’s Facebook page or at saigonheat.com
Vietnamese Cyclist Grabs HCMC Crown
Veteran cyclist Nguyen Nam Cuc of the Sai Gon Velo Team has won the 45km cycling race held annually by Ho Chi Minh City Television and Department of Culture and Sports to mark the Independence Day, according to Vietnam News.
The 36-year-old national star completed the race — 15 rounds of a 3km circuit through Mai Chi Tho Boulevard and Tran Van Khe Street in District 2 — in 58.19 minutes last month.
Mai Cong Hieu and Singapore’s Seah Tek Wee of the Gau Vang (Golden Bear) Team finished second and third. There were also 30km races for men and women.
The events attracted more than 200 Vietnamese and foreign cyclists and over 30 teams.
Becamex Binh Duong Score V-League Title
Becamex Binh Duong became champions of the 2015 Toyota V League 1 with two matches in hand after a goalless draw with Hai Phong in the 24th round at Lach Tray Stadium last month.
The champions earned 49 points after 24 matches, six points more than their closest rival, FLC Thanh Hoa, who lost 3-4 to Quang Nam.
Binh Duong become the first Vietnamese team to win the national premier league for the fourth time. Their previous titles were in 2007, 2008 and 2014.