Arsenal will visit Indonesia, Vietnam and Japan as part of Asia Tour 2013 this summer. Ahead of the trip, we're getting to know more about the Club's fans - and this week it is the turn of Arsenal Vietnam president Duc Cuong Nguyen.
Name: Duc Cuong Nguyen
President since: 2008
How excited are you, and the whole of Arsenal Vietnam, about this summer's tour game against the national team?
We could not have imagined that Arsenal will visit Vietnam this July. It's like a dream come true, we can’t wait to watch this match. It is so great!
What are Arsenal Vietnam planning on doing in the build-up to the game?
Right after receiving the official confirmation of the match, our management board had a meeting. We are planning a lot of activities. We will help Arsenal fans to buy tickets and support those who come to Hanoi from other cities and countries. We have a volunteer team to help them to check in to hotels and on the match day, you will see our red and white kits fill the stadium. We will have other events surrounding the match as well.
We could not have imagined that Arsenal will visit Vietnam this July. It's like a dream come true
What about when Arsenal arrive in the country, what will you do to celebrate their arrival?
Online-wise, we are now working with Arsenal in the UK to run some competitions on Facebook and Twitter. We are going to publish a book of Arsenal in Vietnamese for Vietnamese fans on this occasion. We are hosting a huge party for thousands of Arsenal fans in Hanoi on the day just before Arsenal arrive. Then we will have a mini celebration at the Noi Bai Airport to welcome Arsenal to show everyone how much we love the Club. If it is agreed by the organisers, we would like to perform a song and flashmob at My Dinh stadium before the match.
What was the reaction in Vietnam when you found out that Arsenal were going to visit?
Every sport newspaper and TV channel were covering it. It's the hottest news of this summer.
How much is the excitement building as the tour gets closer?
The excitement has certainly grown following Fredrik Ljungberg's visit to Ho Chi Minh City.
What have people said to you about the tour - are your family and friends excited? What about other members of Arsenal Vietnam?
I receive questions and calls everyday. My phone is often busy and my e-mail inbox is often full. Members of AFCVN call me so much to get any new information about the tour.
Why are Arsenal so popular in the country - what is it about the club that attracts so many fans?
I think the Premier League is the most interesting league to us. And of course, being one of the best teams in the league, Arsenal have a lot of fans in our country. The sexy, attacking style, fair play and especially a beautiful playing culture have attracted us.
Who are you and the rest of Arsenal Vietnam particularly looking forward to seeing?
Mr Arsène Wenger. He is absolutely the most-wanted man. Most of us are his fans, some fans even call him "Dad". We are also looking forward to seeing every player, especially first-team ones such as Vermaelen, Wilshere, Walcott, Cazorla, Arteta, Podolski, Giroud and Koscielny.
What makes these players so popular in Vietnam?
They are all stars in their positions and they play for one of the most famous clubs. We can see them on TV every weekend.
What reception can the Arsenal squad look forward to from the Vietnamese people?
They will see how much we love them, how warmly we will welcome them and how excitedly we chant their names in the stadium.
To me Arsenal is the most beautiful club in the world
What will the conditions be like in Vietnam in July - how hot will it be?
It will be hot because July is the middle of summer here. The temperature can be over 33 degrees.
Tell us about your own love of Arsenal - when did you first become a fan of the Club?
I became a fan of the Club when I was 11 years old in 1998. It was the first time I felt really interested in a football club.
What are your first memories of being an Arsenal fan?
When I saw Dennis Bergkamp’s goal in the match between Netherlands and Argentina at World Cup 1998, I shouted “Wow!” I was a supporter of Argentina that day but I could not keep falling in love with him. It is exactly love at first sight. Then I knew Bergkamp was playing for Arsenal. And I became a big fan of the Club from that day.
What is it about Arsenal that makes the Club special?
To me Arsenal is the most beautiful club in the world. In every game, they always keep attacking until the end of the match. Their passes, their teamwork and their morale are so great. Young players often get chances at Arsenal. It is so beautiful because there are not many teams in the same class. Arsenal is exactly the heaven for any player to develop, to prove himself and to become a member of a big family. Besides that, Arsenal always try to balance their finances. Arsenal is a really, really special club.
To be one of the first founders of AFCVN and the president now, I can say that seeing AFCVN grow over the years is one of the happiest things in my life
What will it mean to you to see Arsenal play in Vietnam?
It will be one of the happiest moments of my life. I will watch my team play in my country - that is so great. No words can express my feelings now.
What have been your personal highlights of supporting Arsenal down the years?
I fell in love with Arsenal in 1998 but I found an Arsenal supporters club on a small online forum in April 2004. And from that day I have spent all my years supporting Arsenal with our fan club. I was one of the members who set up the website www.arsenal.com.vn, then managed the forum as a moderator, super-moderator and then administrator. The most successful thing I’ve done is building a friendly and professional supporters club. It has connected all Arsenal fans in Vietnam and helped to shared our love for the team.
Tell us about the history of Arsenal Vietnam - how has the fan group grown over the years?
Arsenal Fan Club in Vietnam (AFCVN) was founded on May 22, 2004 by a small group of Arsenal fans. We built up the website www.arsenal.com.vn with the goal to become the largest community for all Vietnamese Gooners. We were certified as the Official Arsenal Supporters Club on October 12, 2007. That is the most important milestone in our history. From having several hundred members in the first days we now get over 45,000 members online.
In an unofficial statistic for the top 100 Vietnamese Social Network pages in 2012, we reached rank 68th, the highest position compared to other football fans clubs in Vietnam. With the use of social networks increasing so fast and people are starting to use Facebook - we built a Facebook fanpage for AFCVN (www.facebook.com/AFCVN) in 2011.With passion and work, we got more than 20,000 likes after only one year and reached 30,000 before the page's second birthday.
Our activities are very diverse. In addition to online activities that bring Arsenal closer to the fans, we have a lot of meaningful offline activities, such as organising big parties, football teams and volunteering. We now have branches in almost all parts of our country. The most active ones are in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang City.
What events do you organise? Where do you watch Arsenal games?
We have organised a lot of events, especially big and mini parties for fans. We organise big parties in hotels and restaurant once or twice a year in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. And we also have mini-parties at weekends where people can watch Arsenal games together. We often choose coffee bars or beer restaurants for these parties.
How many of you are hoping to go to the games this summer?
I think all members of AFCVN are looking for the game. The My Dinh Stadium will be filled with fans. They come from everywhere in our country and there will be fans from neighbouring countries at the game too.
When did you become president of Arsenal Vietnam? How proud were you to take the role?
I officially became president of AFCVN in 2008. When I took this role I was still too young, but with all my knowledge, experiences, enthusiasm and especially the help from my friends in the board of administration and the trust of members, AFCVN has grown over the years. I am really really proud of this.
How pleased are you with how Arsenal Vietnam has grown over the years?
To be one of the first founders of AFCVN and the president now, I can say that seeing AFCVN grow over the years is one of the happiest things in my life. I can see that AFCVN will continue growing and surely become the largest and the most friendly community for all Arsenal fans in Vietnam. This is the result of our collective efforts. We really are a family. I love this so much.