The Local Game: Know your place

Youngsters like Bắc should be taught to learn about the consequences of their actions and know that however great their talent is, no single person is greater than the team.

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Nguyễn Đình Bắc (right) in the Asian Cup game against Japan where he was highly praised. VNA/

Theo Vietnamnews

Photo Hoàng Linh

Anh Đức

Did you know that South Korea’s superstar Lee Kang-in and Việt Nam’s hottest prospect Nguyễn Đình Bắc were both born on the 19th day of the month? For Kang-in, it was February 2001 and Đình Bắc August 2004.

But that was not the only thing that these players shared during the past week.

While Lee suffered enormous backlash from his alleged bust-up incident with national team captain Son Heung-min in the Asian Cup, Bắc was sent to Quảng Nam FC’s youth team for training as punishment for disobeying team rules.

Both Gen Z players are considered the future of South Korean and Vietnamese football, but their actions in my opinion sent an alarming signal and are perhaps a direct result of how the media is treating young players.

Bắc, after a tremendous performance against Japan in the Asian Cup, was pushed to the moon with praises. He has great tenacity and speed and shows no fear whoever the opposition. When Việt Nam lost their second match against Indonesia, Bắc was not present because of an injury, and without the intense press from the 19-year-old, Việt Nam seemed to struggle.

In a tournament with bleak results, Bắc’s rise and performance became a rare spotlight in Việt Nam’s campaign. But when the V-League returns, all that positive vibe from Bắc vanished, as his club manager Văn Sỹ Sơn disclosed a shocking incident.

The young striker was due to return to his club after Tết (Lunar New Year holiday) on February 11, but told his manager that he “missed a flight” and showed up two days late for the pre-season training camp. According to Sơn, Bắc did not even answer his teammates’ phone calls, when they stopped by to pick him up for a coach ride to training. Sơn, who sees this as a disrespect to the team, banished Bắc to the youth team right before Quảng Nam clashed with Bình Dương.

It is evident in many cultures, not just in Việt Nam and South Korea, that respect and discipline are a fundamental principle. The instance where one man puts himself above a collective is also frowned upon, especially in a team sport such as football.

Therefore, it is understandable why both Lee and Bắc suffered from the wrath of the fans in recent days. But for Bắc, it is somewhat a fortunate thing for him to feel this pressure three years earlier than Lee, and with a much softer consequence: Lee has his reputation tarnished in South Korea, with brands cancelling sponsorship deals with the player.

Youngsters like Bắc should be taught to learn about the consequences of their actions and know that however great their talent is, no single person is greater than the team.

And a great shoutout to coaches like Sơn, who has the boldness to issue such a punishment.

Theo Vietnamnews