Assistant Kim Chi, a silent hero in the journey to World Cup

Assistant coach of the Vietnamese women’s team, Đoàn Thị Kim Chi has been praised for playing an important part in their FIFA Women’s World Cup journey.

Assistant Đoàn Thị Kim Chi (right) has had 25 years of football experience. — Photo thanhnien.vn

It’s not been an easy ride, especially after many members of the team became infected with COVID-19.

From the squad of 23, a total of 20 tested positive during their training camp in Spain. And to make matters worse, some were the team doctors.

With the medical staff out of action, Chi stepped in to take care of the positive patients.

“The doctor was supposed to take care of the whole team, but no one thought about what would happen if the doctor also had COVID-19,” said coach Mai Đức Chung.

“My assistant Chi had to take care of the doctor and the team. I cannot thank her enough.”

It’s well-known that all successful footballer managers are supported by an excellent number two, and Chung is no exception.

The 2022 Asian Cup was a lot more than just a regional tournament, the right results could springboard Viet Nam to the Women’s World Cup, and they delivered.

Chi is the coach of the HCM City women’s team. National players such as Cù Huỳnh Như, Chương Thị Kiều, Nguyễn Thị Bích Thùy, Trần Thị Thùy Trang, Trần Thị Kim Thanh, Trần Thị Phương Thảo, Trần Thị Thu, Nguyễn Thị Mỹ Anh and Nguyễn Thị Tuyết Ngân are trained by Chi at the HCM City team.

Most of Chi’s players competed in the two playoff matches against Thailand and Chinese Taipei at the 2022 Asian Cup. They contributed three out of four goals with Như, Kiều, and Thùy all finding the net.

“There was nothing happier than seeing my footballers playing in the decisive match against Chinese Taipei to compete for a slot to the World Cup finals,” said Chi.

“Our generation had been very hungry to secure a place in the world’s biggest football event but we failed in the past. Now we have done it.

“More specifically, the scorers in that special match with Chinese Taipei were Kiều and Thùy of HCM City FC. I was very emotional. My players were very good. I am grateful to them.”

Successful coach

Chi fell in love with football at the age of 18, when she was a university student.

The 42-year-old said: “When studying at the University of Physical Education and Sports, I received an offer to play football. I immediately agreed and trained with HCM City. Since then, I fell in love with the game and began my professional football career.”

Over 10 years of playing for the national team, Chi won four SEA Games gold medals, one title of Southeast Asian region, and four Vietnamese Golden Ball awards.

Chi’s image with her head covered in blood, determined to continue playing at the 2019 SEA Game, is one of the most iconic images of Vietnamese football.

After she retired as a player, Chi quickly showed her ability as a trainer. In the past seven years, Chi has helped HCM City win six national championships.

After 25 years of following football, Chi is not only a symbol of success but also plays the role of an inspirer for younger generations.

National coach?

Recently, coach Chung told the VFF he will step down at the end of this year because of his age, many experts recommended Chi for the position of head coach of the Vietnamese women’s team because of her knowledge of Vietnamese women’s football and devotion to the profession.

“Kim Chi has good specialties and her World Cup experience as an assistant will be a valuable asset for her to be a successor of coach Chung in the future,” said expert Đoàn Minh Xương.