Twenty-five football-oriented venues and academies in Cambodia have been officially inaugurated by the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) and the International Football Federation (FIFA) to promote the future development of football in the Kingdom.

An inauguration ceremony for the 25 football academies was held at Angkor High School in Siem Reap on January 17.

The launch of the FIFA Football for Schools programme was announced at the launch, under the presidency of FIFA representative Fatimata Sidibe. Officials from the FFC and the Ministry of Youth, Education and sport were also in attendance.

Sidibe praised the achievements of the FFC and commended the efforts of its leaders in pushing the football for school programme.

“I am optimistic that this programme will make a significant contribution to producing players of an international caliber,” he said.

Sok Sabayna, education ministry undersecretary of state, spoke on behalf of Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education.

He thanked all the 25 capital-provincial Departments of Education, Youth and Sports for their cooperation in implementing the project. The initiative was made possible through the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Education, and financial support from FIFA.

Former Manchester United defender Wes Brown attends the launching in Siem Reap on January 17. FFC

“The programme will provide many benefits to society and give our young people the opportunity to learn to play football according to international standards. This will keep them physically and mentally healthy. In addition, football will teach them to build relationships, friendship, solidarity and an understanding on how to work as part of a team,” he said.

“In accordance with government policy, young people should play sport for life, and this will be an excellent beginning for them. In addition, the football federation confident that the hosting of the 32nd SEA Games will be a success,” he added.

Keo Sareth, FFC secretary-general, said the federation has been a member of FIFA since 1933. For the past 90 years, FIFA has supported the development of football at all levels, through financial assistance, training and administrative support. FIFA collaborated with the FFC to build natural grass football fields in each of the Kingdom’s 25 capitals and provinces as part of a plan to inspire more and more Cambodians to take up the game.

In line with the FFC’s 11-point strategic plan, it has built a strong football infrastructure, organised national and international tournaments, and developed all aspects of the game, including support staff and indoor and women’s football.

“Through this strategic plan, the federation hopes to see football grow still further – both regionally and on the wider international stage,” added Sareth.