Cambodia is set to break new ground when the 18-member National U13 team travels to Ho Chi Minh City this weekend for the 2012 AFC Girls Football Festival.
The six-nation festival, involving Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, Guam and Vietnam, runs from June 9 to 14.
Matches will be 11-a-side over two 25-minute halves on a field slightly smaller than full size.
Unlike the previous edition for U14s, a ranking system has been introduced to make the event more competitive.
There is no regulation on playing all players the same amount of time.
“These changes will make this year’s event highly competitive and challenging,” Sam Schweingruber, SALT Academy director and head coach of the national squad, told the Post yesterday.
“There are 400 girls who play in organised leagues in Battambang or Phnom Penh.
“The 18 selected for this trip have been going through rigorous training for the past six months,” added Schweingruber, who completed an AFC A-licence coaching course a few months ago.
The touring party has 16 new-comers and only two with previous festival experience.
Battambang’s undisputed claim as the hub of women’s football has been borne out by the fact that 14 members of the team are from that province.
Two are from Phnom Penh and one each from Siem Reap and Pursat.
“Our major concern is that the girls are not used to 11-a-side games. They mostly play local seven-a-side leagues,” Schweingruber said.
“So this will be a tough task for them. But the experience will be highly rewarding,” said the coach.
“Cambodia’s participation is in itself a milestone as the country attempts to strengthen women’s football.
“It is a great opportunity for the girls.”
Cambodia’s match schedule
June 9 v Philippines
June 10 v Thailand
June 11 v Myanmar
June 13 v Guam
June 14 v Vietnam
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]