National team coaches Hang Chhaya (left) and Willie Guillory watch as a player practices spiking during training yesterday. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
Nothing less than No 1 is the phrase ringing in the ears of the Cambodian national team as they prepare for Saturday’s start of the 2011 WOVD Standing Volleyball World Cup, to be played at the indoor hall of the Olympic Stadium.
As the local organising committee of the biennial event is laying out the red carpet for participating teams and officials, the host nation's side is going through a rigorous training regimen in the care of a coaching team led by head coach Hang Chhaya, his assistant Chhit Poramy and fitness and motivational coach Willie Guillory.
“We’ve had three weeks of solid preparations, and the team is looking much sharper, more focused and self-assured like never before,” coach Hang Chhaya, a Cambodian Australian, told the Post yesterday.
“I'm only too happy to be part of the team again.
“And, having been associated with the national team since the 2005 World Cup in Canada, I can state with confidence that this team is by far the strongest we have ever had.”
Hang Chhaya took the Cambodian team to Canada for their World Cup debut, but his work with the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh kept him out of the next two editions.
He stepped in nearly a month ago as national coach in place of Christian Zepp, who was in charge of the team during the 2007 and 2009 tournaments.
“We could take only eight players to Canada,” Chhaya said. “Here, we have 12, and there are five members who have played in all three World Cups. Then there are newcomers who are quite skilful. I feel we have a good, balanced team.”
The head coach noted that “stage fright” was the most important factor for his players to deal with.
“We’ve tried out new approaches to help them get over it and be bold and confident on the court,” he said.
“The players have been training hard and well, and I have immense confidence in some of the young players who have emerged. I think we have a good shot at the championship this time.
“Developing body strength is critical in honing your volleyball skills, just like improving agility and flexibility, and this is one area we have been really working at.
“I am happy that the results have been very encouraging.”
Assistant coach Chhit Poramy brings his vast playing and coaching experience in netball and volleyball from back home in Australia to this new assignment – a job he views with enthusiasm.
“This is somewhat different, but I’m enjoying the challenge,” he said yesterday.
“It’s good to be working as a team and lift- ing Cambodian volleyball to new heights.”
Guillory, meanwhile, expressed his pride at the improvements in the team’s conditioning after a month’s hard work in training.
“No one in the team is sore now,” he said. “I often drill this message into them: the fitter the body, the better your playing skills. And the team has really got into this fitness regimen quite well.
“Things are going pretty well on the fitness front. All in all, we’re ready and eager to push for the top spot – and we’re not settling for anything less.”