“Now, ‘fighter jet’ Ngo Van Kieu is present at our village’s cultural house, so please give him and his Sanest Khanh Hoa club a round of applause for their participation in our traditional festival,” said a speaker of Ninh Giang Village in Hanoi.
It was on the 18th day of the first month of this lunar year, or March 8, when Ninh Giang Village organized their annual traditional festival to honor their founders and ancestors who taught villagers the career of making herbal medicines.
Ninh Giang in Ninh Hiep Commune of Gia Lam District has been famous as the village of herbal medicines for over 1,000 years in Hanoi, and villagers gain a higher average income than in other localities.
They love volleyball and decided to include the sport in their traditional festival four years ago. The organization of the festival is covered by the management board of the village.
Six volleyball tournaments have been held in Ninh Giang, but no scandal has ever taken place, said a national-level referee who has officiated the competition there for the last five years.
The volleyball competition in Ninh Giang had the participation of premier clubs such as Sanest Khanh Hoa, Information High Command of the army, Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade, Tien Nong Thanh Hoa, Hai Duong, Hung Yen, the Air Defense team from the army, Duc Long Gia Lai, Hanoi, Tu Son – Bac Ninh Sports University, and Trang An Ninh Binh.
Volleyballer Nguyen Ngoc Anh of the Tu Son – Bac Ninh Sports University said his team often plays in some 30 village tournaments after the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday every year.
The volleyball tournament was held over two days in Ninh Giang, with the opening day for women’s competition and the following day for men’s.
Around 1,000 villagers flocked to the cultural house to watch the games, continuously cheering and applauding.
The cost of holding such tourneys has been covered by individual sponsors, and the People’s Committee of Ninh Hiep Commune has not spent a penny.
Authorities helped with security and health staff during the volleyball competition, said Nguyen Van Tuong, an official in Ninh Hiep.
The volleyball tournament this year had the sponsorship of 120 locals. Each gave from VND500,000 (US$24) to VND40 million ($1,900).
The winning team of men’s category got a total of VND125 million ($6,000) in cash, and women’s winning team earned half that amount.
A former member of the national team told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that, “We played two rounds of the national championship, traveling from north to south to win VND100 million [$4,800] for the title.
“Here at a single village’s event, we get over VND100 million after just a day of competition.
“Good prizes are what drive us to take part in traditional festivals like this.”
However, the central sports department has banned athletes from national teams from joining tournaments at the village level since the beginning of the year.
Tran Duc Phan, vice head of the Sports General Department, said the ban is to prevent the professionals from suffering injuries.
However, Nguyen Van Nam, assistant coach of Trang An Ninh Binh volleyball club, said competition at all levels is necessary for his players because they do not have enough official tournaments to compete in for training.