THE main road in front of the Nedyong High School in Battambang will be transformed into a sports venue Friday as part of the inaugural 2009 Hello Street Football Tournament. Games will be played over three days culminating in finals, an awards ceremony and a disco party Sunday.
A total of 38 teams are currently signed up to participate, with the possibility of more still to register. The tournament is divided into three categories - girls, under-16s and seniors - who will compete for a share of the US$1,380 total prize money donated by sponsors Hello Phone Company. So far, 10 girls teams, including two from outside of Battambang, 12 U-16 teams, and 16 senior teams have registered.
Tournament rules follow closely to international football rules, with five players per team, although matches are restricted to a single period of 25 minutes. Roughly 45 games will be played each day, with each team competing in two to three daily matches. Teams in each category will be divided into pools of five to six, of which the top two or three will advance to two further groups of three, with the group winners facing off Sunday.
In Monday's opening ceremony, presided over by Kim Norn from the Provincial Government and Lach Man from the City Council, the joint efforts of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Football Federation of Cambodia and local youth sports organisation Salt Academy received commendations for promoting and developing football and futsal in Battambang province through several competitions.
Salt Academy has helped to assemble all competition referees to attend basic training sessions for three days starting Monday. A total of 30 budding, young match officials were educated by experienced coaching instructors Tuy Bonhuen and Tschuen Ty, who were sent by the FFC with the intention of strengthening the human resources of the Salt Academy and football in general in the region.
Four young female players also attended the course, while several local team captains listened to the first few hours of rules explanations, hoping to gain an advantage in the competition through better understanding of the laws of the game.
Futsal is a relatively new sport in Battambang. with many youths now enjoying kickabouts on the streets. However, most players have yet to learn FIFA's official international competition rules.