Vietnamese businesswoman Tracy Thư Lương, is first and only female club owner of the Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA). Lương’s team, the Thang Long Warriors – the sixth and newest addition to the VBA League – tops the ranking with eight victories and a 73 per cent win rate, even ahead of seasoned rival Saigon Heat.
Tracy Thư Lương and her husband pose with the dinosaur mascot of Thang Long Warriors, a team she owns.
Why did you decide to become the owner of the Thang Long Warriors? What was the biggest challenge you had to deal with in forming the team?
As an investor, I realised the potential of basketball as a sport in modern Vietnamese society. That’s why I accepted the VBA’s offer to become the sixth team of the Vietnamese professional basketball league.
The biggest challenge for us was to secure good players as a new member of the league. Luckily, I had the support of coach Lee Tao Dana from the very beginning. He did a fantastic job of picking the best players for Thang Long Warriors. We are very happy with the team and we think there is good harmony between our domestic and international players.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being the woman owner of a basketball team? What did your family say when you told them you were going to own a basketball team?
One of the advantages of being a female owner is that I feel things with a woman’s heart but at the same time think with a cool head. I don’t think gender matters much in my job, the responsibilities and the challenges are the same.
My husband and my children are loyal fans of Saigon Heat, who represent the country in the ASEAN Basketball League. When I told them I was going to become a basketball club owner everybody was 100 per cent behind me. It shouldn’t have come across as a surprise as I was a basketball player in secondary and high school.
How do you define your leadership style? How do you get involved in the team’s technical side and the task of motivating the players?
Personally I think maintaining good teamwork and discipline is paramount to the success of the team. I prefer to leave the technicalities to the coach as I have much respect for his professional opinions. That way I have the time and energy to focus on my roles such as financing the team, marketing and building our fan base to create the best possible conditions for our players.
The Warriors, the VBA’s new kids on the block, are doing exceptionally well so far this season. What objectives did you set for the team?
Any team playing in the VBA is aiming for the top and we are no exception. However, as a new club our top objectives are to make an impression of ourselves and to build and expand our fan base.
I try not to put too much pressure on the players. My demand is simple: win or lose, they must give 100 per cent as a team. As long as they do that we can face defeat with our heads held high.
Why did you pick a dinosaur as the team’s mascot?
I wanted the team’s mascot to represent our warrior spirit and the dinosaur fits perfectly as the animal is a strong, formidable warrior who is ready to dominate the playing field. Another similar animal, the dragon, was already taken (the Danang Dragons).
I’m sharing with you a little secret. At the beginning, we almost went with the name Ha Dong Lions. It was my husband’s idea. Wouldn’t it be a mini scandal for a team owned by a woman to be named Ha Dong Lions? (Ha Dong Lions is a Vietnamese cultural reference to ferociously jealous women whose temper strikes fear into the heart of their husbands).
What difficulties have the Warriors faced as a new team in the VBA? What must you do to become stronger in the future?
Our biggest headache at the moment is securing an up-to-standard court to train on as well as for our matches in the VBA. There are just not that many options in Hà Nội. Luckily, we have the full support of the Hà Nội National University of Education, where our home court is at the moment.
The Thang Long Warriors must find ways to maintain our players’ form throughout the season. We must also be able to deal with injuries, which are an inseparable part of competitive sports to achieve the best possible results. — VNS