Coach Daiki Iwamasa’s insights on Vietnamese football development

After spending six months working in Vietnam, Coach Daiki Iwamasa shared his insights and experiences. The former head coach of Hanoi FC highlighted several key areas that need improvement for the long-term development of Vietnamese football.

Field Conditions and Infrastructure

Coach Iwamasa pointed out that the quality of the playing fields in Vietnam is one of the biggest obstacles to the country’s football development.

“The biggest issue is the quality of the grass on the pitches, including both stadiums and training grounds. I see that there is a low awareness in Vietnam about these problems. Improving the pitch conditions is crucial for the long-term development of football in this country. Vietnamese players would benefit most from a short-passing game on a good pitch. We need to improve the training grounds and the match pitches,” Coach Iwamasa emphasized. His focus on the quality of playing surfaces underscores the foundational role that proper infrastructure plays in nurturing football talent.

Player Safety and Refereeing

Another significant concern for Coach Iwamasa is the frequency of dangerous fouls and the need for stricter refereeing standards.

“Dangerous fouls that can lead to injuries are still rampant. This requires strict enforcement by the referees. Hanoi FC has had several injuries and we see dangerous tackles in every match. Whenever this happens, I tell the fourth official to protect the players, but usually, nothing changes. The rules are there to protect the players, and the referees must enforce them. I hope this situation improves,” he remarked. Ensuring player safety through stringent refereeing is critical, according to Iwamasa, as it directly impacts player longevity and the overall quality of the game.

Playing Style and Development

Coach Iwamasa also addressed the playing style in the V.League, particularly the over-reliance on foreign players.

“In the V.League, foreign players often make long passes to other foreign players in attacking positions, while local players tend to let the foreigners handle the situation before reacting. This will not help Vietnamese football develop, and I want to change this,” he stated. Iwamasa advocates for a more inclusive playing style where local players take more initiative, fostering a more balanced and integrated approach to the game.

Observations from Matches

Reflecting on specific matches, Coach Iwamasa praised certain teams for their innovative approach and reliance on local talent.

“Hanoi FC played against SHB Da Nang and PVF-CAND, and they played an interesting brand of football without relying on foreign players, allowing local players to make decisions. They are hard to beat, controlling the ball well and having clear tactics. These are top teams in the First Division, and I find they play better than some V.League teams,” Iwamasa observed. His observations highlight the potential for local talent to excel when given the opportunity and the right environment to develop.

Challenges and Philosophy

Addressing the broader challenges within the league, Coach Iwamasa discussed the pressures on teams and the need for a long-term vision.

“I think V.League teams can play this way, but they don’t. The focus on results forces them to rely on foreign players to win matches. However, not changing this approach will hinder the development of local players and ultimately the national team. The only way is for coaches to be ready and steadfast with their playing style and observe the progress of their players over months or a year. My focus has been to allow players to experience this kind of football,” he explained. Iwamasa’s philosophy centers on long-term development over immediate results, aiming to foster a more sustainable and holistic approach to football in Vietnam.

Resilience and Belief

Despite initial setbacks, Coach Iwamasa emphasized the importance of resilience and maintaining one’s principles.

“I didn’t achieve results initially and faced criticism. But that was inevitable, and I needed to stay true to my philosophy to reach the end goal. The results we achieved give me more confidence and prove to some extent that things can change if you believe. I hope what we’ve done at Hanoi can inspire more V.League coaches,” he shared. Iwamasa’s resilience and steadfast belief in his methods are key messages for other coaches and stakeholders in Vietnamese football.

Encouragement to Innovate

Coach Iwamasa concluded with a call to embrace innovation and the possibility of failure as part of the growth process.

“Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to fail. This applies not only in football but in any environment. If you don’t try, you will never change,” he encouraged. Coach Iwamasa’s words serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of innovation and the willingness to embrace failure as part of the growth process.

Coach Iwamasa emphasized that while there is no definitive answer to the best football style, he hopes to see a variety of styles in the V.League. He believes that in 5 to 10 years, with diverse approaches from different teams, Vietnam will develop a style that best suits its football culture. His vision is one of diversity and adaptability, which he believes are essential for the evolution of Vietnamese football.

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