Over the past few months, Ha and I have been working on launching ChoiBongRo.com (translated, it means Play Basketball). It’s where people can lookup nearby basketball courts all over Vietnam in both English and Tieng Viet.
Since coming to Vietnam in 2006, I found that it is very difficult to find places to play basketball. Vietnam differs from the United States in that there are very few places to play…anything. Walk around and you will occasionally see kids playing in small cement lots, sometimes accidentally launching balls into busy roads. There are not even many fields (pitches) to play football (soccer), which is easily the most popular sport in Vietnam (volleyball may be second). Almost all the basketball courts in the country are at schools, but they often not well maintained. Universities may have courts, but these are normally crowded. Many others are only available for use by organized teams, and even when available, their booking fees are somewhat expensive for young kids. Thus, it’s hard to imagine how Vietnam can be competitive in sports when youth play spaces are rare all over the country.
Despite all the new real estate developments in the cities, there has not been a similar emphasis on recreational space. Even in large housing developments for upper tier housing, a small play space is added as an afterthought rather than a key feature of the development. Outside the cities, in the provinces, there may be more land space for recreational areas, but these spaces are not being developed for play either. This is making it easier for today’s youth to simply stay home and watch tv or play mobile / iPad games. Because of this and the rise of costs for “real food”, which is promoting consumption of boxed, manufactured, and frozen food, I have no doubt that malnutrition and obesity will be a real challenge to Vietnam over the next twenty years, just as the problem is rising in Western countries today.
ChoiBongRo is a resource that we hope those living in Vietnam will embrace and share their own discoveries to help other current and future basketball players develop their loves for the game. We want to make it easier to go outside and play. Vietnamese youth, both girls and boys, need spaces to work on their games, learn the sport, play pickup basketball, shoot around – just exercise and have fun.
Right now, the website is currently very simple. We have listed some of the main courts in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi, but we need help! As we can get more submissions and user traffic, I hope to find sponsors that will help finance the development of the site (nothing too fancy, just further development and optimization of its WordPress theme. I would love to hear from players what they need to support growing basketball as a sport to understand what should be developed after that). I’ve chosen this map-based theme as it has a responsive layout built in and helps users visually find and browse courts in their geographical area whether they are using a PC, tablet, or mobile phone.
If you love basketball or know someone who does, please share the website with friends so it can be discovered by more people.
Thanks, and remember www.choibongro.com!