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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia National field hockey beats Yamoto club

Cambodia National field hockey beats Yamoto club

Cambodia National field hockey beats Yamoto club

camb.jpg
camb.jpg

Cambodian players outwit the Japanese defense on their way to a 4-2 victory.

Cambodia's national field hockey team defeated Japanese university club Yamoto for

the second year running in a three-match test series at Olympic stadium that wrapped

up February 19.

The mixed team of past and present students from the Leadership Character Development

Institute (LCDI) is the only field hockey team in the country.

LCDI is a locally-established NGO that provides education and skills for disadvantaged

youth.

Looking the best on the field has little influence on performance in field hockey

it would seem: watching the Cambodia National Team scramble together for a pre-match

warm-up was not too encouraging for the 100-strong crowd.

A mixture of caps and discolored uniforms, a goalie rolling up his jeans, strapping

on his substitute cricket pads, and two latecomers dragging themselves onto the field

stood in stark contrast to the Japanese players, in freshly pressed red and white

uniforms, stretching with choreographed grace.

Cambodia, however, soon proved a point, and an hour later the crowd was cheering

at the 4-2 final score.

Team member Vu Ngoun-phally, 23, a former student of LCDI, was confident of his team's

performance before the starting whistle blew.

"I have strong belief we are going to beat [the] Japanese team today,"

he said.

Ngounphally said he saw some of his friends playing hockey five years ago and wanted

to try it.

"I like it because it's a new sport in Cambodia," he said. "Nobody

knows how to play and I want to be a leader of hockey - a hockey teacher."

Asif Maqsood Rana, 35, a Pakistani national hockey representative, arrived in Cambodia

in 2000 and is responsible for introducing the game of field hockey.

He proudly said the International Hockey Federation granted the Cambodian National

Team membership in November 2004.

Rana has approval from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to introduce hockey

into the public school system, which he hopes will begin in three Phnom Penh schools

in March.

"The staff at the Ministry of Sport didn't even know what hockey was, so I had

to draw it, and then they understood," he said.

Rana currently coaches and plays for the Cambodian National Team, which trains every

weekday morning and afternoon.

Up to 65 players, from 15 to 23 years old, make up three different teams. Twenty-five

are women, and Rana selected seven girls and nine boys for the Yamoto test.

Japanese and Pakistani sports companies supplied the hockey equipment.

Rana said he would like the team to participate in the ASEAN games, but in the nearer

future he wants to organize matches with Thailand and Hong Kong.

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