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U14 boys head to AFC festival

Members of the Cambodian U14 team travel to the Malaysian state of Sabah today to participate in the AFC Festival of Football ,which also features coaching courses

The U14 national team train at the National Training Centre Friday ahead of their trip to Malaysia for the football festival.

THE 22-strong Cambodian national U14 team, accompanied by three officials, will leave for the Malaysian state of Sabah today to take part in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Festival of Football, which starts Wednesday at the Likas Stadium. This is the fourth year in succession that Sabah, which is situated on the northern tip of Borneo island, is hosting the tournament after Cambodia held its inaugural event in 2005, and Kuala Lumpur staged the following edition.

Cambodia’s national side went through nearly two months of intensive preparation at the National Football Centre on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, under the watchful eyes of head coach Ieng Saknida and goalkeeping coach Un Sokha. Keo Kosal as the team manager is the third official to travel with the team.

Ieng Saknida has expressed his satisfaction with the squad and is confident the boys will return “much richer in experience.”

May Tola, Deputy Secretary of the Football Federation of Cambodia, echoed the coaches enthusiasm. “The team members are very keen and perked up,” he said. “There is not much pressure because it is a festival and there are no eventual winners in the competitive sense. In fact, all are winners since the emphasis is more on participation rather than performance.”

The AFC is charting out this carnival as an important component of its much touted ‘grassroots and youth development’ programme. The Land Below The Wind, as Sabah is popularly known, has been chosen because it boasts excellent facilities and environment, according to Dr Annathurai Ranganathan, who is the AFC Development officer in charge of the youth project.

“This festival is all about tapping potential footballers for the future”, Dr Ranganathan stated in an AFC communique.

As an official extension of the festival, the AFC is also holding a two-week C Certificate coaching course as well as a referees course and head coaches workshop. Cambodia is fielding two candidates for the coaches course.

“We want to make a big investment in the development of coaches and referees to further develop the sport in the region,” Dr Ranganathan stated at the unofficial launch of the festival last week.

Participants involved in the programme this year would be given an online password with a one year validity to download special modules from the AFC coaching syllabus to use in their own coaching schemes.

Teams from Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, East Timor, Australia, the Philippines, and Myanmar join hosts Malaysia in Sabah in the last of five festivals to be held in the Asian region this year. Earlier this year, similar events were staged in Doha (February 26 to March 9), Tashkent (April 13-26), Beijing (April 14-27) and Tehran (May 10-23).

Nearly 40 participants drawn from almost all of the Metfone C-League clubs and other institutions attended a two-week coaching course organised by the football federation in Phnom Penh which concluded recently and was aimed at novice to intermediate level coaches.



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