The football community in Cambodia is agog with excitement over the three-day visit beginning Sunday of the Chairman of the Asian Football Development Project (AFDP), Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, who is also the youngest person to hold the position of FIFA Vice President representing Asia.
A high point of the 38-year-old Prince’s mission to the Kingdom is a visit on Monday to the SALT Academy headquarters in Battambang, home of the AFDP-supported Mighty Girls Football Programme.
Prince Ali, who is the founder of AFDP, a non-profit youth commission based in the Jordanian capital Amman, will meet SALT Academy director Sam Schweingruber and his team as well as the young players.
“Women empowerment is a key component of AFDP’s strategy, and this is exactly what SALT is thriving to achieve, one Mighty Girl at a time,” Prince Ali said in a statement released to the media by his office.
“AFDP aims to increase both female participation in the game and professionalism of the football programme, pushing Cambodian women’s football to the next level and creating even more powerful role models for girls throughout the country.”
Schweingruber, who set up SALT Academy six years ago but relocated to the capital last year to take the head coaching job at local top-tier club Phnom Penh Crown, said the Prince’s visit was an encouraging sign for the organisation.
“To receive support from AFDP and as a project to be visited by the FIFA Vice President is a tremendous achievement for our small NGO. We are committed to use this additional help to further improve the quality of our work and help for girls football in Cambodia to break through,” he said.
Before his trip to Battambang, Prince Ali, a member of the Jordanian Royal family, will be a guest of honour at Olympic Stadium for Sunday’s opening ceremony of the newly formed Cambodian Football Development League.
The CFDL is a new initiative from Crown, well supported by seven other Phnom Penh-based teams and involving junior league competitions for U12, U14 and U16 age groups.
The matches will be five-a-side over 40 minutes for U12, seven-a-side over 40 minutes for U14 and 11-a-side over 60 minutes for U16.
The teams taking part in the league are Phnom Penh Crown, Ministry of National Defence, SSCA, Preah Khan Reach, Naga Corp, Muslim Football Development Cambodia, Rising Stars International Sports Academy and Young Wolf FC.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]