Top Cambodian archers recently fired off a volley of complaints about the poor standard of equipment and facilities made available to them by the Cambodian Archery Federation (CAF), a fact they attribute to the gradual decline in popularity of the sport in the Kingdom.
Despite CAF president and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith pledging to make significant improvements to the national team’s training camp, including badly needed new bows, arrows and targets and a larger practice area, the archers have yet to see any positive changes.
The national archery team regularly trains at the National Sports Complex to prepare for international tournaments, but no members will be sent to the 26th SEA Games in Indonesia this November.
Four experienced male and female archers receive a basic salary from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport but struggle to cope with the conditions afforded by the federation. CAF vice-general secretary and national team coach Kong Deap said the team faced a “difficult situation because of a lack of equipment, like arrows and archery targets, which are worn out”.
Kong Deap also said their field was too small to adequately practise for long-distance events such as 90 metres.
Khieu Kanharith has apparently found a new field for the squad to train on in Prek Eng district of Kandal province, but they are reluctant to make the long commute each day because of high transport costs.
The CAF president admitted during his speech at the closing ceremony of the 2011 National Archery Championships on March 6 that he was too busy with his government position to devote time to promoting the sport.
Twenty-one-year-old Deap Berlin, who has been with the national team for three years, said: “We still keep training in this sub-standard field, but I’m used to it now.
“The main problem that we have is a lack of decent equipment.”
Vann Tina, a five-year veteran of the national team, observed that archery was an attractive sport in other countries for its ease of practice, but bemoaned the situation in Cambodia, which has seen a marked drop-off in interest.
The experienced archer also made a public plea for sponsors to fund activities and promotion.
“We still try hard to keep training with archery in the hope of finding a sponsor to help archery gain more attention and see it progress further,” Vann Tina said.
TRANSLATED BY PANN RETHEA