Two teams from Phnom Penh, Cambodia Chlat (Intelligent Cambodia and Cambodia Klang (Strong Cambodia), made it an all-Cambodia final in the B competition of this year’s Mekong Cup in Bangkok on Sunday afternoon. Both sides fought hard to take home the honours but ultimately Klang proved too strong for their compatriots.
The annual Mekong Cup sees ultimate frisbee teams from all over the region (and as far away as Guam) compete in the mixed-sex self-refereed sport. Romina de Jong, organiser of the fortnightly Bee Force ultimate clinics for women in the capital and captain of Cambodia Chlat, was particularly pleased that women are becoming more visible.
“It is marvellous to see that Cambodia not only brought out more women than ever before, but that they also took key roles and responsibilities, including team captain.” Both Cambodian teams got off to bad starts in the first round, with Cambodia Chlat losing to the Chiang Mai-based Lannanana, while Malaysian side Care Bears beat Klang.
However, these defeats were put into context when the Mekong Cup was won the following day by the Care Bears after an exciting final clash with Lannanana.
Both teams recovered from their shaky starts and improved throughout the day. After some close games, both teams got their first victories late on Saturday afternoon, opening the door to the quarterfinals. While Chlat beat debuting team Zero Ultimate from Myanmar, Klang were victors over Lao side Sabai Disc.
Ultimate veteran Dan Friendly, who played for Sabai Disc, was impressed with the improvement in the Cambodian teams. “Cambodia Ultimate has clearly done the most in the region in terms of player development – I am wildly impressed!”
Chan Sreyda, who participated in an overseas tournament for the third time, said she learned about coaching as the co-captain of Cambodia Klang “I learned a lot, most importantly how to support my team and cheer them up when the game gets hard.”
Chlat and Klang’s battling defeats on the Sunday morning to Vietnamese side Vudoo and hosting team SoiCowboys, respectively, quashed any hope of a Cambodian team in the quarterfinals. But the Kingdom’s representatives quickly put this disappointment behind them to focus on the push for victory in the tournament’s B competition.
“There were awesome opponents in the tournament, but we grew a lot and played even better [on the second day],” the co-captain of Chlat, Va Vutha, said of his side’s drive to the final.