Most universities in Ho Chi Minh City lack enough sports grounds for students to train on during normal hours, forcing them to do so at midnight or on internal roads.
As a result, football and volleyball yards are used by four or more groups at the same time. Traditional martial arts classes have also taken place on deserted and dimly-lit roads at night.
Yet, despite the congestion, schools still make sports houses available for lease to outsiders.
Nguyen Van Truc, a student of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities and regular member of the martial arts class, said, “Our training space is on a road. It is so dark that we can’t clearly see the directions and techniques of our trainer.”
“We joke that our training is similar to a blind knight performing to the sound of wind,” he said smiling.
The other challenge they have to overcome is the hard surface of the asphalted road.
Sometimes, the class is interrupted when a vehicle passes by.
Ho Thi Quynh Phuong, another student, admitted, “We have no other space to hold this class.”
A student of Saigon University said the sports ground at her school is available for different sports like football, volleyball, basketball, and table tennis, but it can only meet the demand of students in curricular time.
The ground is occupied by different classes from the morning till the evening, she added.
Many universities in Ho Chi Minh City have to hire sports grounds in other locations for their students to train on.
For example, HUTECH is based in Binh Thanh District but its sports ground is in District 4.
The Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities and the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology are both based inside the campus of the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City in Thu Duc District, and so have larger grounds for sports training, but even they cannot meet the demand of their students.
The football ground of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities is often leased to outsiders after office hours at VND250,000 (US$11) per hour.
So students of the school have to hire other places at these times, or they have to wait till midnight to use the area.
Due to the shortage of sports grounds, curricular sports training time is only organized for form’s sake and students make only basic warm-up exercises, like elementary students do at school.
“Elementary school students are even growing tired of it. It’s better for the school to cancel sports training during the day to save time,” complained a student.