Pioneer breaks the mould of football managers

How many women would dare to manage a men’s football team and have the strength, tenacity and determination to turn around a struggling squad?
Enter Ms Phichika Bounkouang, who took on the challenge of becoming the President of Vientiane United Football Club earlier this year. She is the first Lao woman ever to manage a football club and aims to develop the skills of a bunch of young players to a level that would see them represent their country in the future. 
Last year the club failed to make much of an impact in the Lao Premier League, despite putting together a strong squad.
After a disappointing finish to the season, the team did not sign up for this year’s Pepsi Lao Premier League and many of the players joined other clubs.
But even after the team disbanded, Ms Phichika decided to assemble a new squad and hopes to put together a competitive side that can put on a strong showing in next year’s league.

Ms Phichika Bounkouang and her colleagues.

She took a bold approach and decided to throw open the club to young people from around the country, giving them the chance to prove their talent.
“There are many challenges in managing a football team. And because I’m a woman, some footballers don’t have any faith in my ability to build a new team,” she says.
But in February this year, Ms Phichika began the process of selecting young players aged over 18 to compete in Division 1.
Her intention is to give as many youngsters as possible the opportunity to display and utilise their budding talents in Laos’ main tournaments - Division 1 and the Lao Pepsi Premier League.
These tournaments are the proving ground for young hopefuls with big dreams of making it onto the national team in the future.
Ms Phichika has selected 35 young footballers to play for Vientiane United in Division 1 this year.
She also gave opportunity to Mr Khampan Douangvilay, 15, from Samouy district in Saravan province to show his skills with a ball.
Khampan lives and dreams football and plays whenever he can. He is 156 cm tall and has a lofty ambition to represent his country in international matches.
Ms Phichika rewarded his enthusiasm at the club’s recent opening ceremony by giving him the chance to show his skills with a ball.
She also made Khampan’s dream come true by including him in the Vientiane United line-up against the Lao All Stars - a thrilling game in which he was delighted to a contribute a goal to his club’s 4-1 victory over the Premier League team.
In Ms Phichika’s capable hands, Vientiane United has played four friendlies, winning two games, drawing one and losing the other.
The club comprises 36 players, including six goalkeepers, seven defenders, 12 midfielders and 11 strikers.
Before she took over Vientiane United, Ms Phichika played an important role in taking the DK Football Club to play in China and also led the U-14 national squad in friendlies against Thailand’s Muangthong United and Nakhon Lasasima FC.
Last year she helped to organise a charity match between the Lao All Stars and the Thai Artists football team in Vientiane, to raise money for families who lost their possessions or crops when parts of the country flooded.
Let’s hope her drive and ambition take the club forward and that Vientiane United becomes a force to be reckoned with.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update April 21, 2018

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