British born Vietnamese Johnny Hai Huy La, 21, from London is a student but has aspirations to be a professional footballer.
He holds a FA Level One coaching badge, which gives him the license to supervise and coach youth teams, and he also completed two weeks of work experience as a trainee coach at Arsenal in February 2004.
When did you start playing football?
I started playing football when I was 8, in primary school or at home with friends who lived on the same estate. This was usually for fun. I did not play for any teams until I was 14.
Were you in any teams when you were at school/outside school?
The very first team I played for was my after school club for a brief period of time at Kingsland Secondary School. I began to play competitively for my local youth club, St. Matthias Boys’ Club under 15s in the Camdam & Islington League for one season; followed by a season with Waltham Forest FC under 16s in the Cheshunt Youth League; at the same time I also played for my school team Aveling Park School. In the summer of 2005, I represented the London football team in the Stockholm Summer Games through the organisation of the London Youth Federation.
What is your typical training schedule like?
As I get older I know there are other priorities and a need to balance my working, social and academic life along with the training. But I try to attend the gym for a duration of 1 hour 30 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week along with one 2 hour session of 5 a-side football during the middle of the week.
As a British Vietnamese, do you think you get a fair deal for opportunities in football?
As a British Vietnamese, I do believe we have a fair deal of opportunities in football, whether it is playing, coaching or management. However, football is the number one sport in England and with its large population it is very competitive and requires a lot of hard work to succeed.
What team do you play for at the moment?
I currently play for K2 FC in the UK Chinese Football Championship League (www.ucfc.co.uk) along with a few good friends (Michael Le, Tai Nguyen and Tony Nguyen). Michael’s like a big brother who’s really strict, where as Tony’s the cheeky one in the group and Tai’s always half asleep. Although we are a serious team, we are like the dwarfs!!! We also have a Facebook group for the public that can be found on my fan page. The public can follow the team’s fixtures and also come along to cheer the team on. You can also keep up to date on the team’s results and participation in competitions and tournaments.
What is the Nike Chance about and what support do you need?
The Nike Chance is a competition organised by Nike for aspiring footballers aged 18 and over who believe they have the quality to play football professionally, and to win a place in the Nike Academy in the UK from July 2011 to May 2012, complete a pro-level football training program run by Nike and supported by the Premier League, to play against top pro clubs.
The first stage of the competition is to get as many people to join my fan page on Facebook, with each person that joins it increases my chances of being noticed. By doing so, the Nike scout team will then take notice of the page and assess/view the contents of it, before deciding whether to give myself or others a trial, only 23 places are up for grabs in the Nike Academy to form a team.
What are your ambitions and goals?
My ambition has always been to become a professional footballer, but having to be realistic about things, I have also continued with my studies as a back up. Therefore, my current goals at the moment are to complete my degree course at university in Business Management and to graduate in the summer of 2011, become a successful entrepreneur or business person if needed to be. Also, I am in the middle of assisting my junior manager from my playing days at St.Matthias Boys’ Club, in expanding his football club Lapton FC (www.Lapton.co.uk) across London. I help with reconstructing the club’s website and generating new clients and building my own management team to take the club forward to be successful.
What is your best position?
Previous team managers have played me at Centre Back. However, my current team manager believes my best position is at right back, as I am able to demonstrate not only my defensive duties, not being afraid to go into hard tackles and heading the ball. I am able to express my attacking qualities and put my stamina and pace to use as I am able to run up and down the right side of the pitch working tirelessly throughout the whole 90 minutes of the game for the team.
Do you eat rice before a game?
No I do not eat rice before a game. If I was hungry I would have a banana, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to run and turn with the ball. I rather avoid all criticism for having slow lorry turns, as the team would label our team mate Michael Le who considers himself as Arjen Robben; sorry for the exposure pal!!
Do you have any pets?
I do not own any pets, but I would like to get a dog some time soon.
What advice can you give to Nee Hao readers who want to do the same as you?
My advice for Nee Hao readers is to play for a team from an early age as possible and to train as often as you can, even if it’s just a kick about with friends. This can be used to perfect any skills you want to do or even experiment with skills you see footballers do on the television. Also try not to limit yourself to only watching premiership football but to watch football from all levels, as this allows you to see what should or should not be done during a game; also to eat as healthily as you can and most importantly to not give up and enjoy it, as it is a team sport.