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Bayon Wanderers end long search for glory

Photo by: Nestle Poell
Bayon Wanderers captain Billy Barnaart holds up the PPPost Charity Cup as his teammates celebrate victory Saturday at Kidzcool.

AN ecstatic Bayon Wanderers line-up finally ended their 15-year wait for a tournament victory by winning the Phnom Penh Post Charity Cup at Kidzcool Astroturf pitch Saturday. Club founder Billy Barnaart was delighted at the triumph, sealed with a win over Jimmy’s Old Stars in the grand final Saturday, to claim their first title in nearly 45 attempts in events across the region.

“Everything clicked,” said Barnaart when describing his team’s winning formula. “I’m very pleased.”

The Bayon Wanderers, a Phnom Penh-based team of football enthusiasts from all over the world who have played on average three tournaments each year since 1995, remarkably have never claimed the winner’s trophy in any of their previous competitions, despite some strong performances. “At the last Sports For All tournament played at Olympic Stadium, we were kicked out in the quarterfinals,” said Barnaart. “In the Far Eastern tournament in Bangkok [played every year in April], we were also kicked out in the quarterfinals.

“In the Phnom Penh Post Mini Soccer Championship, we won all of our regular league matches, but stumbled in the semifinals. The same happened in the Bayon Challenge. We won all our games and then stumbled in the semifinals.”

Barnaart hopes his team can continue their newly found success into future events, with an entry into the seven-a-side Masters tournament for over 35-year-olds in Phuket planned, as well as another appearance in the Sports For All competition. “It’s always fun to play at Olympic Stadium,” said Barnaart. “Hopefully we can win the Cup.”

Invitations to events in the Philippines and China, however, are liked to be declined due to financial restrictions.

The 10 teams competing in the PPPost Charity Cup Saturday helped raise over US$2,000 towards the costs to send a Cambodian team to the 2010 Homeless World Cup in Rio de Janeiro next month. Team organisers Happy Football Cambodia Australia are still looking for sponsorship for the trip, with a documentary screening and salsa dancing night scheduled for this Friday at Meta House.

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