Preview by Chris McAsey
Despite significant churn in the Hanoi squad, confidence is high in the Vietnam Swans camp. Both the men’s and women’s teams are looking to improve on their 2022 finishes at the Champs, where they had strong showings but missed finals.
Camaraderie between the men and women’s teams has been a focus, with the men and women training together regularly in both the North and South.
Men’s coach Timmy Pickert has put together a solid calendar of football for the Swans to hone their game plan and sharpen their skills leading into the Champs.
‘Since March we’ve welcomed the Hong Kong Dragons, Singapore Wombats and Wombettes, the Indonesia Volcanoes and Cambodia Eagles and Asparas to Vietnam,’ Tommy says.
‘With both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh hitting the track at least once a week and local leagues running, there’s been plenty of footy to go round.
‘We should be in pretty good shape come the Champs weekend.’
Tommy says that while there’s no getting around the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh geographical divide, the Swans have put a lot of work into bonding as a team.
‘We’re constantly on chat groups with each other and there is friendly competition for places.
‘There lots of lip from the forwards in particular vying for bragging rights as the leading goalkicker!’
Women’s coach Wayne McMahon has been busy on a recruiting drive and will bring a new-look team with a strong Irish contingent to Chon Buri.
McMahon says the Swanettes are ready to give this year’s Champs ‘a red hot crack’.
The 2023 Swanettes are ready to swoop on the 2023 Asian Championships SMATS Women’s Division.
The men’s team faced stiff tests against Singapore and Indonesia recently, coming out on top against the Bats and going down by a score to the Volcanoes.
The women recently turned around what they considered a disappointing performance against the Asparas in Phnom Penh with a sound win over the Philippine Eagles at home. The Swanettes have solid all year, kicking off the season beating the Wombettes on home soil for Anzac Day.
Players backing up from last year’s Champs
The men’s Division 1 team is largely the same squad as last year. In particular, keep a lookout for 2022 All Asia picks Jonathan Mackay in the ruck and Russel Clarke in the guts powering the engine room, along with Ryan Tishler and Jake Norris.
For the women, Katie Quinn will bring her experience and strong leadership back to Chon Buri and Lucy Nguyen makes a welcome return to the Swans defence.
The Swanettes take on the Singapore Wombettes in the annual ANZAC Match in Vung Tau, April 2023.
New gun players to watch out for
For the fellas, look out for swingman Joe Cuddihy at centre half back. Never having played Gaelic football or held a Sherrin until a few months ago, Cuddihy is a natural – with great positional awareness and grit developed playing hurling. Expect to see Cuddihy taking intercept marks across half back and providing plenty of rebound.
For the women, look for Gaelic convert Evrena Everard in the guts to win a lot of ground ball and contested footy. She takes a lot of territory and creates opportunities for the forwards, as well as laying some big tackles.
The local talent
The Swans have put a lot of working into retaining their core of local talent. On the men’s side, Vinh Le continues to develop and has worked hard to improve his fitness. The plan is for the man with the biggest calves in Asia to get more time in defence.
For the women, Tram Nguyen has made great progress, going from strength to strength. Tram has built a reputation for laying tackles on gun male players in the local competition. She makes her international debut at the Champs and is an exciting player to watch.
The 2023 Swans are pumped to battle for the Austhai Geophysical Division 1 title.