General Neth Savoeun, National Police chief and president of the Volleyball Federation of Cambodia urged all divisions to work together and be determined to demonstrate their pride in the nation by claiming gold at next year’s historic Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), which Cambodia will host for the first time.
Savoeun considered the bronze medal win at the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam in May as a sign that the Kingdom had broken its 40-year run of underperforming. He added that the Cambodian performance had left some of its neighbours unhappy.
“The history of Cambodian volleyball spans 40 years, but we have never made much of an impression on the international stage. That all changed very suddenly at the 31st SEA Games, when we were able to place third out of the eleven nations competing. We stunned our competition, who were aghast at our improvement,” he said.
“They must have been thinking ‘How could we lose to Cambodia? And how could such a small nation cause us to lose face?’ I think the victories we achieved should be shared between the players, the coaches and the federation. We need to keep working hard. The third place in Vietnam is something to be proud of and I believe it has made us hungry for more wins,” he added.
Savoeun made the remarks at the closing ceremony of the 2022 Sar Kheng Cup, held at the Visakha Volleyball Stadium. During the final match on June 26, Visakha B defeated Phnom Penh Municipal Administration B in 3-2 sets to claim the trophy. They also took home $5,000 in prize money, with the runners up collecting $3,000.
On the same day, Siem Reap defeated Takeo 3-2 to finish in third and earn $2,000. Takeo had to be content with $1,000.
There were also individual $200 cash prizes for outstanding players. Best setter went to Chan Saran of Takeo and best blocker went to Dy Lyda of Phnom Penh Municipal Administration. Chhim Chheangny of Visakha claimed best server, with E Sam Oeun of Siem Reap winning the best spike and most valuable player of the tournament.
Aing Serey Piseth, secretary-general of the volleyball federation, hinted at some strategic plans for the development of volleyball in Cambodia, such as organising more events, establishing professional teams in the provinces and developing new talent. He had previously said that the Kingdom would be targeting gold or silver at next year’s games.
However, the script was torn up by Savoeun.
“The secretary-general of the federation said that we are committed to hosting the 2023 SEA Games and would be happy to win second place. I am cancelling the plan and insist that we must win the best medal, gold. Our ambition should be to strive to be number one!” he said.
“If we don’t come first, we can finish runners up. Earlier this year we placed third, and we cannot allow ourselves to go backwards. My hopes are resting on the federation, on the coaches and sponsors, as well as on the national team. I request that Sar Sokha, vice-president of the federation and secretary-general Piseth prepare to select at least 12 substitutes to support the national team. We have to work hard if we want to win gold,” he added.