Cambodia’s National Volleyball team have been practising long and hard at Olympic Stadium in preparation for the SEA Games in Laos in December
ISPP students gain awareness
The International School for Phnom Penh (ISPP) began its annual Landmine and Disability Study Group last week, with 10 students visiting the Cambodian National Volleyball League (Disabled) office for an introductory presentation. The CNVLD is the largest organisation in Cambodia in terms of developing national disability sport programmes, and they provide national and international disability awareness and education.
The ISPP study group was established by schoolteacher Brian Webster in 2003, and has made with remarkable progress in integrating disability issues into the school curriculum. ISPP sponsor the Takeo ISPP Templestowe Falcons volleyball team, currently sixth in the CNVLD standings after two rounds, with funds raised by events such as their annual Fun Run in February, which generates around US$5,000 each year for the team.
The Falcons also help the ISPP team prepare for their regional international schools Mekong River International Schools Association (MRISSA) tournaments.
In September, Takeo Falcons co-sponsors Templestowe College from Melbourne organise the Cambodia Community Challenge, with students visiting for the fourth consecutive year to play in mixed-team matches with the Falcons and ISPP team members.
ISPP was awarded the Best Educational Institute for Disability Issues by the CNVLD last year.
Since 2005, ISPP Landmine and Disability Group students have worked on the renovation and upkeep of the grounds of the Kien Khleang National Rehabilitation centre, created an award-winning Dutch-language land mine information Web site, designed an international fundraising campaign, produced a short video documentary and, most importantly of all, contributed enormously to raising awareness, support and respect for athletes with a disability of Cambodia.
During the visit to the CNVLD office last week, ISPP students were given an introduction by General Secretary Chris Minko and met with Manager Pich Piseth, Admin Manager Keth Theary and Special Projects Officer Neil Wilford to learn about the huge progress the CNVLD has made since the end of the 2009 school year. Such advances include the formation of the 2009 Cellcard National Volleyball League, the push for national wheelchair racing champion Van Vun to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the development of the Armed Art Programme under Melbourne Royal Institute of Technology lecturer George Friml.
Van Vun set to make Olympics bid
Hopes for Cambodia's first-ever representative at the Paralympics rest firmly on the powerful shoulders of Van Vun, the National Wheelchair Racing Male Champion for the past two years.
The CNVLD have been tasked with providing the training and entry requirements necessary for ensuring the participation of the 23-year-old athlete at the 2012 London Games. Van Vun is said to be hard at training, allegedly adopting the song "London Calling" by The Clash as a theme tune for his campaign, which has received sponsorship from ANZ Bank.
Van Vun is also being provided the opportunity to seek long-term training and employment in Phnom Penh in parallel with his athletic endeavours, thanks to a donated computer and training from nonprofit data-entry enterprise Digital Divide Data, who have partnered the CNVLD for the past two years.
Volleyball team brace for SEA Games
With the start of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games less than four months away, sports teams representing Cambodia at the event in Laos are beginning to intensify their training.
The National Volleyball team is no exception, with training sessions conducted daily under the watchful eye of national team coach Kem Say and his assistant Mao Vanniya at the indoor hall of the Olympic Stadium.
Coach Kem Say has selected a squad of 20 players, most of whom are students and members of the armed forces. He feels all his players are of a high standard and is confident they will give stiff opposition to the favoured teams from the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.
"We train every day from now until the Games - except on public holidays - starting from 6:30am 'til about midday," Kem Say stated.
"I don't know if we can win a medal, but we will try our best," he added.
The coach highlighted a trio of star Cambodian players that lay the foundations of their squad. "[Sem Sam] Ath is our best spiker," he said. "We also have [Pouv] Chan who is very good at setting and passing the ball, and then [Chan] Sovann will be providing service."
Kem Say hopes his team this year will improve on their performance at the last SEA Games in 2007, where they were knocked out in the preliminary rounds while the Men's Beach Volleyball team claimed the bronze medal.