Asian parents at their kids’ football game

This is something I should have written a long time ago. I wasn’t feeling “like it” back then so I dropped the idea. However, after quite some time I realised I didn’t want it to be left unsaid. Hence, here I am telling you one of the many differences I noticed between the way Western and Asian parents raise their children.

In the April of 2015 I was invited to photograph for AIS (Australian International School) U7 and U11 football teams at a friendly tournament held by SSA. Many schools, both international and Vietnamese, were invited to participate. I was AIS’ photographer, so it was my responsibility to always be glued to both U7 and U11 teams to take their photos.

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When I have just arrived at the venue, I noticed a lot of foreigners. So many of them that it didn’t even occur to me that there might be Vietnamese teams as well. The cars came with all of the family’s members: moms, dads, sisters and brothers,  all came to support and cheer for the tiny football player on his big day. The Vietnamese parents, however, were nowhere to be seen. Most of the kids just went with their coach to the game.

In the evening were semi-finals and finals, so it was a lot of tension among the teams. AIS’ U9 was up against a Vietnamese team and the coach confided that in the team was a boy who already was 9 years old and a couple of weeks. They considered a big deal and I think it’s nice to see someone following rules that well. Most people didn’t even know what I was doing at the tournament which gave me a huge advantage of being able to talk to pretty much anyone. I decided to approach to the coach and ask him about the team while the boys on both teams were getting ready. Vietnamese kids tend to look much younger than their actual age. The coach told how most of them were between 9 and 12. I was shocked. I couldn’t see the benefit of cheating in such a tournament. At the end of the day, this is no world cup…

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When the boys started playing all of the parents focused on the game and their boys. AIS was doing very well at the first half and you can tell that parents were very proud. Vietnamese parents, however, were not just unhappy but they couldn’t avoid letting their disappointment known. They started scolding their kids, “why aren’t you playing properly?” one of the parents yelled. What is playing properly? aren’t they always doing their best? “what are you doing there?!” One of the parents angrily yelled at a boy. The boy looked a bit stressed but still played and from what I saw, did his best despite the heat. “Score a goal! stop missing the goal”, “Just kick the ball in the goal” and other meaningless things.

The kids started to feel the pressure and played recklessly: pushing the opponents, getting aggressive… anything just to score a goal and win the game.

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Personally, I found it both stressing and useless. Putting a kid under a ridiculous and unnecessary pressure. Moreover, this kind of “support” will always make a kid feel pressure to win, to succeed and always exceed his or her mates. Support is a crucial factor in building the kids’ character and confidence. I wonder, whether this is the reason why Vietnamese tend to cheat in exams more, and their unsatisfiable desire to always exceed other people by any means, including pushing others down.

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