“I really enjoy what I am doing even though my job requires me to stay outside under the sun, getting dark skin,” coach Phan Nara said.
Nara, a development coach for younger players for the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC), has played football since he was 10.
Starting at such a young age has allowed Nara to become a top football player.
“When I was young, I played football for fun, to improve my strength and make friends,” he says, “But then I was selected to be a national player and play abroad, and I realised that playing football is not only for having good health, but it also increases my skill, income and reputation.”
Nara is a former national player for the U16 and U17 teams and a former assistant coach for the national U23 team. After he returned from abroad, he became a player for the Build Bright
Football Club in 2005. Nara also was selected by the FFC to be a trainee in the Asia Football Confederation (AFC) coaching program in Malaysia in 2011, a program that has since ended.
“I was the third and the last Cambodian participant... Since then, I become a development coach and trained children. That is the project from FFC.”
Nara has a busy schedule, juggling four jobs: the one with the FFC, an assistant coach of Build Bright Football Club, a match commissioner of the 3G Football League and a player for the Cambodian youth unit confederation.
Moreover, late last year, Nara helped set up the Soccer Skill and Fitness Center of Cambodia (SSFC).
There, he volunteers training at no cost, and helps educate young players on health and personal responsibility.
“I am currently serving as the director of this centre. We have three main goals: transferring the knowledge of playing football to young people, promoting football in Cambodia, and lastly, encouraging youth to play sports for health reasons and to avoid using drugs and other bad stuff.”
Nara has also faced a number of challenges in his young and busy life.
“Sometimes I have troubles with time management. I miss some academy classes to train, or sometimes I join a class, but I was too tired after a match. Then I did not have much focus on it. And now that I’ve graduated, I still don’t have time with family since I have a tough schedule,” he says.
Nara loves football and says everything he has now is because of the sport.
“I was born in a poor family with many siblings. We love and help each other for sure, but for our individual futures, we had tried our best. For instance, to me, without football I may not able to finish my degree,” he says.
Nara’s advice to young people? They should use their time effectively, doing what they need to do first before making any decisions about their future.
And if it is possible, he adds, they should take time to play football or tennis or any other sport, as athletics can provide them with joy and help them stay healthy – even if they can’t make it a profession as he is doing.