Baseball has been resurrected in the Kingdom from the ashes of its previous administration and currently enjoys fresh participation from local players, according to officials of the revitalised Cambodian Baseball Federation (CBAF).
Having struggled for years to maintain its activities under the presidency of US-based CBAF founder Joe Cook, the national team set-up has been switched from its original home of Baribo ballpark in Kampong Chhnang province to a more modern facility at the Boeung Samrith resort in Baray district of Kampong Thom province.
Resort owner and National Assembly member Nhem Thavy has been elected as the new president of the Federation, in a move wholly endorsed by National Olympic Committee of Cambodia secretary-general Vath Chamroeun.
“Baseball in Cambodia used to encounter lots of problems due to the sport requiring vast expenses on uniforms, training materials, field maintenance, qualified and experienced coaches, and especially talented players. However, now we have solved these problems,” Vath Chamroeun told the Post.
“The NOCC had already appointed Nhem Thavy as the president of Cambodia Baseball Federation, as he has enough capability and financial power to support the team’s needs.
“He is also an inspired leader that will instil confidence in the Cambodian national team, and will help them compete in international competitions.”
National team coach Mick Rhodes Natividad, a former Filipino baseball league Rookie of the Year, told the Post that 21 players from across the country have been selected for training at the resort.
According to the coach, a two-year agreement has been struck by the CBAF with foreign associates to host international friendly competitions once every three months at the field featuring players from the US, Japan and South Korea. A tournament was held on May 26 featuring members of the American, Japanese, South Korean and Philippine embassies.
While Natividad claims Cambodia have enough ability to compete at the SEA Games, this year’s edition in Myanmar in December has omitted the sport.
The Kingdom last sent a team to the SEA Games in 2007 in Thailand, where they came in last after losing all five of their games against the hosts, the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysia.
Cambodia’s first international victory came at the 8th Asian Baseball Cup in Bangkok in 2009, when they beat Mal-aysia 20-8.
“I dare to say that our players could finish fourth if we were to play at the SEA Games this year,” said Natividad.
The two most experienced national team players, Hul Sophu and Seng Vun, told the Post the squad trained together for four hours a day, received free food and were accom-modated comfortably at the resort.
“If I compare our team to other teams in Southeast Asia, we are no different to them in terms of standard,” added Hul Sophu.
Translation by Cheng Seryrith and additional reporting by Dan Riley