On 24th of April 2011 the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo organized the second annual Turtle Football Cup in Dong Mo stadium Nghia Son village of Son Tay district, Hanoi.
Four local teams played to raise awareness for the critically endangered Swinhoe’s Softshell Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei). The species is known to occur in Dong Mo Lake and is recognized as one of the world most endangered animals of which only four animals are known to existence globally.
Known in Vietnam as the Hoan Kiem turtle the species is of significant cultural importance due to 15th century legend about a mystical turtle living in Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi.
Presentations made between the matches highlighted the need for community support for protection of the Dong Mo turtle and the lake it lives so future generations can see the living legend. With over 100 spectators from surrounding villages came to support the players. Following 19 goals the final was played between the Youth Union team of Kim Dai I village against the Farmer & Fisherman team of Nghia Son II. The farmer and fisherman team were victorious this year and will return in 2012 to defend their title.
Pham Van Thong the ATP field officer who has works full time to conserve to protect the species described the situation “we’re down to the last few animals of this species now, every single one counts towards the survival of the species and the legend. We play today to win the match we need to work together to win the survival of this special turtle”.
The second Turtle Football Cup for Rafetus Swinhoei was supported by Columbus Zoo, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), the Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF) Columbus Zoo and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.