THE structured development of women’s football in Cambodia takes significant step this weekend with the hosting of the inaugural National Women’s Championship at Meanchey University, starting next Sunday.
Teams from Battambang, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Prey Veng, Kandal, Phnom Penh, Pailin, Kampong Thom, Stung Treng and Pursat provinces will vie for top honours in this league-come-knockout event. The field will be split into two groups of five, with the top two teams from each group qualifying for semifinals. All the matches will be played on the same pitch in Banteay Meanchey, with the final slated for September 17.
“It is a huge leap forward for the women’s game in the country,” said Football Federation of Cambodia spokesman May Tola yesterday. “We did send our [women’s] national team to an event in Laos last year, but this is the first time the FFC is introducing a nation-wide championship to create a structure for women’s football.
“This year we have restricted the number to ten, after FFC monitors assessed the quality of the teams. I am confident the number will grow in the years to come.
May Tola expressed his enthusiasm with the rapid improvement in female participation in the sport. “It is a good sign that more and more girls are taking up football, and now that a start has been made and a national stage created for them to flaunt their talents on a regular basis, the FFC is optimistic of a better future for the women’s game.”
Snohomish United, a visiting American girls side from Washington state played a series of friendlies against the ten provincial teams last month, comfortably beating most and completing the tour without conceding a single goal. However, the FFC contended the disappointing results for the local sides were of no consequence and what really mattered was the enthusiasm and zest displayed by the players.