VietNamNet Bridge – Defending champions HCM City will face fierce battles against the Ha Noi and Army teams at the National Team Badminton Championship Dong Luc Cup from March 17-21.
Ha Noi, under Chinese coach Yang Ya Ping, will head to the tournament with an elite squad of new players, while the Army will come with a proven experienced team.
Seven squads from around the country will participate in the annual tournament in a round robin for the title. The winning team will take a cash prize of VND60 million (US$3,400).
Teams will compete following the Sudirman rule, which requires each head-to-head match to include the men's and women's singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
"This is the debut badminton event of 2009, which is part of the preparation for the Southeast Asian Games in Laos this December. As a rule, participating teams will send their best athletes. Each player may compete in two events of singles and doubles," said vice chairman and general secretary of the Viet Nam Badminton Federation (VBF), Le Thanh Sang.
"Most of the teams are ready for the championship with top form athletes who have been training abroad for months," Sang told at press conference yesterday.
He added that some young rising stars would take to the court to hone their skills after prolonged training in China.
"Ha Noi will present a young squad who just completed a training regimen in Nanning, China. Le Ha Anh, who has been called up by the national team to compete in the Asian Badminton Championship in South Korea in April, will be on the roster," he says.
Ha Anh, who is sponsored by VBF along with top seed Nguyen Tien Minh from HCM City, will set the stage for Vietnamese badminton for the upcoming SEA Games.
At last year's event Ha Anh's only loss was to Nguyen Tien Minh, who ranks 15th in the world, in the men's singles final.
In preparation for the championship, organisers will provide financial assistance to nearly 100 top players.
"We will also provide over VND300 million ($17,000) in sponsorship prizes," said Nguyen Trong Binh, sales manager of the Dong Luc Group.
"This is our second time as organiser of the VBF annual championship."
The championship, to be played at HCM City's Phan Dinh Phung Gymnasium, will be the first test for top players before they resume practice for the national team in June.
VBF's general secretary also said the team will select the best of 14 out of 30 athletes to compete in December's SEA Games.
Last year, top seed Minh was the first ever Vietnamese badminton player to compete in the Olympics in the Beijing games.