Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng Football Club, one of Cambodia's most successful teams, has launched a new boarding academy in Phnom Penh. The club seeks to identify and nurture young football talent from across the country, providing them with not only elite football training but also a holistic development programme that includes education and personal wellbeing.

Chris Grant, general manager of the club, shared the vision and details of the ambitious project in a recent interview with The Post.

"We've decided to establish a residential academy at our training ground in Phnom Penh," he said.

"This is the first time that we have scouted nationwide to conduct trials with the view of selecting talent to live and train here. We'll be offering them comprehensive football development and continued education," he explained.

The recruitment process for the academy has been extensive, reaching every province in Cambodia.

"We've held trials in all 25 provinces, with over 1200 participants," Grant explained. "Through a rigorous three-stage trial process, we will select 25 players to join the academy, free of charge."

The youth range in age from 11 to 13 and will remain a part of the academy until they graduate at around 18. Over the years, if some players decide not to continue their training, new players will be selected to assume their spots.

Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC Training Ground boasts two full-size grass pitches. Svay Rieng FC via social media

The initiative aligns with Cambodia's broader efforts to support youth and sports development. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport is actively promoting programmes that enhance opportunities for young Cambodians, particularly those from vulnerable backgrounds. The club’s efforts are a welcome addition to these efforts, offering a structured environment where young talent can thrive.

Svay Rieng FC has a storied history in Cambodian football. The club has won the Cambodian Premier League three times (2013, 2019, 2023) and the Hun Sen Cup five times (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2023).

In the past season, they made history by winning both the Cambodian Premier League and the Hun Sen Cup, a first for the club. This success has paved the way for their participation in international competitions, including the AFC Challenge League and the ASEAN Club Championship.

"Our club has a proud history of competing in international competitions, and we've continuously developed Cambodian national team players," Grant highlighted. "Almost 50 per cent of our current senior players have played for their country."

He noted that the new academy is not just about football; it’s about providing a comprehensive support system for young athletes.

The academy is based at the Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC Training Ground in Phnom Penh. Svay Rieng FC via social media

“The kids will be based here at the club's training ground where all of our departments operate from. They'll be housed here and we’ll have a full time chef. We'll be managing their nutrition to make sure that that they're getting fed properly, as an athlete should,” he said.

“We’ll also be supporting their education. We will have a full-time social worker on site [to look after] their welfare. And, of course, we'll have technical coaches that will be working with them on the field to develop them technically and tactically for football. We're creating an environment where these kids can grow both as players and as individuals," he added.

The club’s commitment to excellence extends to their state-of-the-art training ground, built in 2021 next to the new Morodok Techo National Stadium. The facility includes two full-size grass pitches, a gym, medical and video rooms, a media centre, changing rooms, a cafe and a merchandise store. The purpose-built training ground sets the organisation apart from other professional clubs in Cambodia, providing comprehensive infrastructure to support their team.

The club's community engagement is another cornerstone of their operations.

"We are deeply rooted in our community, actively engaging and contributing to its growth and well-being through football outreach programmes, partnerships and initiatives," Grant said.

Facilities include a gym, video room, media centre, changing and medical rooms, a cafe and a merchandise store. Svay Rieng FC via social media

This commitment is evident in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts, which aim to improve lives, working with NGOs and charitable organisations across Cambodia.

“We are the people’s club, and we are deeply committed to and engaged in CSR programmes across the country. We feel it is our role within local communities across Cambodia – to give back and play our part in improving lives through football and other means – and we continuously do so. Throughout the year we carry out a variety of activities and initiates to improve the lives of the Cambodian people,” he said.

Svay Rieng FC's initiative has the potential to transform the lives of young Cambodians, offering them a chance to pursue their footballing dreams while receiving education and support. As the country continues to invest in its youth and sports development, the Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng Academy is nurturing the next generation of football stars and responsible citizens.