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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Soccer gets ambitious

Soccer gets ambitious


The Cambodian Football Federation (CFF) is expected to receive money from FIFA, the

international football association. This could mean new soccer centers in Siem Reap,

Kampot, Kampong Cham and Kratie provinces.

Swiss coach Samuel Schweingruber with the Navy team players.

CFF's president, Khek Ravy, said the project proposal would be put on FIFA's table

in October.

"We hope to get this money because we are a least-developed country," he


If FIFA approves the project, Ravy said it could be finished by next year.

Ravy said the budget is the same as in a previous project three years ago, when CFF

received $400,000 from FIFA to build a national soccer center at Dangkor, 15 kilometers

outside Phnom Penh.

Apart from these projects, CFF has been receiving an annual grant of $250,000 since

1998. This money is used for internal administration, grassroots development and

participation in international competitions and tournaments.

There are eight national soccer teams in Cambodia: senior, and seven teams for players

under the ages of 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 23. There are no female teams yet.

No one knows the exact number of teams playing in Cambodia; some belong to proper

clubs and train regularly and others play for pleasure.

Cambodian soccer players face many difficulties. Sponsors and training facilities

are limited.

"The soccer players are poor, sometimes I give my own money to help them,"

said Samuel Schweingruber, the Swiss coach of Phnom Penh's Navy team.

He said they either have a good job but little time for practice or they focus entirely

on soccer without making enough money to support themselves.

"There are many good young players but they never get the chance to practice

with a club with proper training facilities and a good coach. If we focus on practicing

the kids when they are young, we will get good players like Thailand and Vietnam,"

he said.

Kao Niso, 14, who has been training with the Navy club for a year and a half, said

a good player should eat enough and practice regularly.

"I am very happy to train at the navy club with a good coach; I have improved

a lot," said Niso, who also plays for the national league under 16.

More than 200 players have trained with the team since it started 20 years ago.

The CFF has provided the club with some equipment. But according to Chay Sichoeun,

the club's director, the lack of sponsors is a major problem.

"We need better training facilities; what we have now is not enough" he


At the moment there are 25 players training at the Navy club every day. Apart from

soccer, the club offers volleyball and boxing.



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