RMIT Vietnam has been building community through sport since 2005. Now the impact of one of those sports is starting to be felt on a local level.
Despite cricket being a global game with an avid following, the sport has struggled to get a foothold in Vietnam.
While there are images of troops playing on a cement pitch laid by local women in Vung Tau during the American War, and the Hanoi Cricket Club formed in 1993, early games were limited to rudimentary scratch matches featuring taped-up tennis balls and rolled out hessian mats.
For the last ten years RMIT Vietnam has played a central role in changing that, laying what is still the only astro-turf pitch in the country back in 2005.
Now, over ten years later, the game is taking its first steps toward legitimacy within the Vietnamese community. For so long the bastion of foreigners, the government is now keen to see Vietnam represented when cricket is included in the next South East Asian Games in Malaysia in August, 2017.
Tim Burdeu, Student Life Senior Manager at RMIT Vietnam is all for this initiative.
“It's a really exciting prospect to think Vietnam may invest in forming a cricket team for the 2017 SEA games,” he said.
“Cricket is a great game that brings communities together.
“It hasn't traditionally had a lot of exposure in Vietnam, but it's played by many countries across the globe, and the VCA’s (Vietnam Cricket Association’s) 20/20 league games at RMIT Vietnam each Sunday reflect this.”
Since May of this year, a group of local Vietnamese would-be baseball players have been encouraged, with the support of experienced VCA players, to form a cricket team strong enough to compete with the more established playing nations in the region.
Gathering on Saturday afternoons at what will be the new home of cricket in Vietnam, the Ho Chi Minh City Sports Complex in District 10, it’s hoped that these young men, drawn from the surrounding neighbourhoods, will pick up the game and get the opportunity to represent their country on the international stage. It won’t be easy, but by all reports, there are some naturally talented athletes who have impressed their coaches.
Regardless of whether they make it or not, it’s a tribute to the role sport can play in developing communities said Tim.
“Sport has a way of connecting people, no matter who you are or where you're from, and RMIT Vietnam really values the role sport can play in developing our students as well as engaging our local community.”
Story: Jon Aspin