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Cambodia to form Women’s Volleyball teams for 2023 Phnom Penh SEA Games

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An indoor volleyball player tries to spike the ball through a wall of a rival team during the national games in 2018. CHHORN NORN

Cambodia to form Women’s Volleyball teams for 2023 Phnom Penh SEA Games

The Volleyball Federation of Cambodia (VFC) – which just broke a record by winning a bronze medal for the first time at the recent 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Vietnam – is now recruiting new players of both genders who think they have what it takes.

The federation wants players with a high level of skill who are prepared to submit themselves to intense training. The process is aimed at helping them become professional athletes who will represent the Kingdom when it hosts next year’s 32nd SEA Games, a historic first.

According to the VFC’s May 30 announcement, it will select both young men and women to be drilled in training camps. To qualify initially, male players must be 1.85m or taller. Women were required to be a minimum of 1.70m tall.

Athletes must be between 15 and 25 years old, are able to play or have played volleyball before, be physically fit and healthy, be patient and love the sport of volleyball.

Through these criteria, it is hoped that the Kingdom will isolate a core squad that can be developed into a strong national women’s team, the first in Cambodian history.

The men’s national team was formed many years ago.

VFC secretary-general Aing Serey Piseth said: “The federation intends to call the top 30 candidates to test with our technical committee. Successful applicants will join our intensive training camps and fight for starting spots. As hosts of the games in 2023, we want to field indoor and beach volleyball teams of both genders.”

“We are ambitious, so we want to be well prepared and take the opportunity to enter women’s teams for the first time at the SEA Games. We believe the technical skills of our players will be close to the top teams – and certainly better than some nations in the region – so we think we have a genuine shot at collecting medals at home,” he said.

The bronze winning men’s team is unlikely to see many changes to their squad, as they have been steadily improving in the years they have trained together, under the careful watch of Visakha club and the federation.

The men’s indoor team finished second in Group B after beating the Philippines 3-1 but losing to Thailand 3-2. In their semi-final match against the Indonesian champions, Cambodia lost 3-1, but took their revenge on the Thai team by winning 3-2 in the bronze medal match.

“We have no history of beating Indonesia, but in the semi-finals, we were able to fight back and reclaim a set. Unfortunately, we could not match their conditioning. When we were tired, we lost our focus. To be honest, with the level of fatigue our players were experiencing, I doubt there were many opponents they wouldn’t have struggled with,” said Serey Piseth after the match, adding: “We will improve our physical strength – as well as our mental focus – because the SEA Games campaign will require a lot of energy and there may be consecutive games.”

The VFC has scheduled international friendly matches ahead of next year’s games.

“We will invite teams from several ASEAN countries to play some international warm-ups, and the president of the foundation has revealed that Cambodian teams may travel to competitions in Japan or Europe if possible. We only have one year left to prepare, which is very short, so we have to use it in the way that is most advantageous for our players,” said Serey Piseth.

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