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Vietnam Swans kicking goals at AFL Asian Championships

The China Reds playing the combined Indochina IC17 team at the inaugural All Asia Cup in Vietnam.
The China Reds playing the combined Indochina IC17 team at the inaugural All Asia Cup in Vietnam.

Supplied: AFL Asia

On October 14 and 15 over 500 athletes competed in the 2016 AFL Asian Championships and inaugural All-Asian Cup.

Players from 12 different countries arrived in the Vietnamese capital Ho Chi Minh City, to decide who were the best Aussie football teams across Asia.

Friday saw the inaugural All-Asian Cup take place, which is a three-team tournament comprised of players from Indonesia, China and a combined Indochina team. This was the first time anything like this has been attempted in Asia.

Then on Saturday the 17th annual AFL Asian Championships took place with 18 teams competing in 26 games across two divisions.

This was the first time the Vietnam Swans hosted the AFL Asian Championships, and the team was excited about hosting the biggest football event since the establishment of the Vietnam Football League during the war over 50 years ago.

Swans player Nguyen Huynh Quang Vinh teamed up with the best players across Indochina to compete against athletes from Indonesia and China for the All-Asian Cup.

"I feel one of my dream(s) is completed," says Vinh.

Local player kicking goals for Vietnam

Vinh was first introduced to Australian football in March 2015, when he played rugby touch football in the Central Vietnam Games event in Da Nang.

Nguyen Huynh Quang Vinh
Nguyen Huynh Quang Vinh of the Vietnam Swans.

Supplied: Vietnam Swans

He fell in love with the game immediately, but because of work and study commitments he couldn't play on a regular basis until almost a year later in the first game of the Saigon AFL's 9 league.

Vinh loves the game because of the spirit of the players. He has found a home with the Vietnam Swans, who make him feel like a part of the team and a part of the game.

"I feel great to play hard against them on the field and be their good friends off the field," says Vinh.

"I have the great team to support me and give me very detail advices for skills, rules and tricks."

The only challenge he's had playing the Australian founded game is competing alongside Australian men because of their "giant size" in comparison to most Vietnamese players.

Vinh was also lucky enough to play in the All-Asian Cup alongside Australian expats like Vietnam Swans captain Bill Crang.

Bill never played Aussie Rules football in Australia, but was always a big fan of the game.

When he relocated to Vietnam in 2008 a friend insisted he come along to a training session.

"The welcoming I got, and the fact other exercise options were limited here, made it an obvious choice to continue."

He's worked his way up to become the team's captain, and has been trying to help them prepare for the finals in any way that he can.

"I lean on a lot of more seasoned footy players in the captaincy of the Swans, but they provide more than enough leadership support. I think we have a great shot."

Vinh feels honoured to be competing with Australian players and wearing the AFL uniform to represent his country.

"I hope I can show some cleverness of the Vietnamese on the field," says Vinh.

Over 500 athletes competed in the 2016 AFL Asian Championships and inaugural All-Asian Cup.
Over 500 athletes competed in the 2016 AFL Asian Championships and inaugural All-Asian Cup.

Supplied: Vietnam Swans

Unfortunately the Swans didn't have any success on the field, but came out winners anyway due to the success of the event overall on their home turf.

The Philippine Eagles won Division One of the championships, with the Bali Geckos taking out Division Two.

The Indonesian Garudas won the inaugural All-Asian Cup.

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