Cambodian football was given another kick in the right direction yesterday as AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa pledged support from the regional and global governing bodies to help continue the development of the sport in the Kingdom.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony of the National Training Centre in Bati district, Takeo province, yesterday morning, the AFC chief said: “I would like to assure you that FIFA and AFC are committed to support the Football Federation of Cambodia in their efforts to take the Cambodian football to a higher level.”
The Bahraini Royal added he was “honoured and happy” to represent FIFA president Sepp Blatter at the inauguration of centre, “where the footballing dreams of thousands of young Cambodians will take shape.”
According to FFC officials, the construction of the facility cost approximately $3.3 million, with partial funding coming by three contributions from the FIFA Goal Project.
“I believe the beginning of this project also signals the start of a new era for Cambodian football and will boost the federation’s efforts to develop grassroots and youth football,” added Sheikh Salman.
The centre features two full-size football pitches as well as three buildings housing changing rooms, dormitories, a canteen and a laundry room.
Along with a reported 2,000 people in attendance at the ceremony were invited dignitaries including Prime Minister Hun Sen, ASEAN Football Federation president Sultan Ahmad Shah, AFC vice-president Prince Abdullah Ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah, and FIFA Executive Committee member and Football Association of Thailand president Worawi Makudi, as well as FFC president Sao Sokha.
“I would like to place on record my sincere appreciation to the Football Federation of Cambodia president Sao Sokha, who played a key role in purchasing the 15-hectare land for this National Training Centre and is spearheading the development of football in Cambodia,” the AFC president told reporters.
“I would also like to thank the Prime Minister of Cambodia, His Excellency Hun Sen, and his government for supporting football because without their assistance it would not have been possible for FIFA, the AFC or the FFC to build a training centre of this magnitude.”
On Monday, the FFC received $120,000 from Vietnamese bank BIDC to help host the 2013 Mekong Region Youth U21 International Football Tournament, also known as the BIDC Cup.
FFC president Sao Sokha collected a $220,000 cheque from BIDC director Veang Van Han during a ceremony at the Phnom Penh Hotel with the understanding that $100,000 of the total would go towards the National Training Centre.
The third edition of the biennial competition will be staged at Olympic Stadium from November 8-11 and is to feature six teams from the Mekong region and two from Japan. Teams have yet to be named.
Additional reporting by Yeun Ponlok, Chhorn Norn & the-afc.Com, translation by Cheng seryrith & In sopheng