About a hundred kids from five to 13 went through a series of tests on Sunday at the Royal Cambodian Navy base in the hope of grabbing a scholarship to the Japanese top-tier competition, the J.League.
The football clinic, organised by talent scouting agency the Japan Dream Football Association and sponsored by GL Finance, was the fifth stop in a regional tour aimed at sourcing promising youngsters to export to Japan. Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta also hosted events earlier this year.
GL Finance president Mitsuji Konoshita told the Post: “Before I became a businessman, my favourite sport was tennis. Since I have never been good enough to make a living from my passion, I started in a real job.
“All the things I have learned from years of playing sports, I could transfer into business – passion, heart, sportsmanship and fair play. The reason why we support football, though, instead of tennis is that my very good friend Masao Kiba does great things for all the Southeast Asian countries.”
Former J.League defender Masao Kiba founded the JDFA in September 2011 and currently serves as their representative director.
According to the organisers, there have been some players from the past few JDFA clinics that have even been taken to Japan to compete in lower-level leagues or youth programs in the hope that they will become a professional in the future. It remains to be seen whether any of the Cambodians will make the grade and receive a golden ticket to Japan.