SOLDIERS traded rocket launchers for volleyballs on Tuesday as a delegation of Thai government officials and military officers travelled from Thailand’s Sisaket province to Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district for a day of friendly athletic competition.
Anlong Veng district Governor Yim Phanna said the event had been organised in an attempt to increase understanding between the two sides.
“We held volleyball and football competitions today between Thai and Cambodian officials and military officers because we want to strengthen our friendship and professional communication,” Yim Phanna said. The two sides split a pair of volleyball decisions, and football matches yielded one Cambodian win and one tie.
Almost 200 Thai civil servants and military officers took part in the event, Yim Phanna said, along with roughly 300 of their Cambodian counterparts. In addition to the sports competitions, the festivities also included a luncheon and an exchange of souvenirs, he said, and added that Cambodia planned to send a delegation to a similar event in Sisaket next week.
Cambodian and Thai soldiers are also scheduled to join one another today along the border near Preah Vihear province’s Choam Ksan district for a day of sport, music and dancing, said Leu Chandara, deputy chief of the Cambodia-Thailand relations office at the Poipet border crossing.
“We want [troops] to compete in sport and get to know each other to make peace at the front line,” Leu Chandara said.
Tuesday’s event in Oddar Meanchey followed a similar gathering last month, Yim Phanna said. He explained that although such competitions have taken place intermittently since the early 2000s, commanders and officials from both sides have attempted to schedule them with greater regularity in the past few months in an attempt to counter tension between the two forces.