The Balaingk Sports Complex in Kampong Thom province has been ornately decked up for tomorrow’s official opening match of the Cambodian national baseball team season organised by the Cambodian Baseball Federation.
The CBAF is staking its pride on the success of what is regarded as the first fully-fledged season in the eight-year history of the game in the Kingdom.
“We are sparing no effort to make this a season of reckoning,” CBAF President Joe Cook, who is based in the United States, told The Post by email yesterday. “This is so special for us. We had regular seasons from 2003 to 2010. Those were short term and not quite like the one we have planned this year.”
An elaborate ceremony has been planned to mark the occasion including a speech from one of the sport’s well known administrators, Jim Small.
The 73-year-old American, who played for the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Athletics during the 1950s, is the Vice President of the Major League Baseball International development organisation.
According to the CBAF President, the season has been split into two terms. The first one involving 38 games will run from tomorrow to April 20, culminating in the three-day CNBT Championships to be held from April 22 to 24.
The June to August second term will accommodate 45 games at the end of which the selected national team members will get down to a preparatory camp ahead of the SEA Games in November.
“Right now we have two teams involved in the league (East and West) with a roster of 15 to 20 players each,” added Cook.
“Our prime target is the SEA Games in Indonesia, so this season is vitally important for us. We have good foreign coaches to assist the team. We will pool all our resources this season to improve our standing in the SEA Games.”
Cambodia returned home winless from their last SEA Games outing in Thailand in 2007, where they finished dead last out of six participating nations.
The official IBAF World Rankings (as of January 12) have Cambodia in 62nd place, sandwiched between Switzerland and Portugal. Asia is well represented at the head of the standings, with the top five nations being Cuba, United States, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan respectively.