Boosters Honor Ex-Player, Hope to Bolster Cambodian Football

There was much discussion of strengthening Cambodian football during a recent ceremony at which a former standout player was honored by the German ambassador.

Choun Maline, who retired from the Cambodian national team last year, was awarded a certificate of re­cog­nition for completion of the In­ter­national Train­ing Course in Hen­­nef, Germany.

The course, or­ganized and paid for by the Ger­man Football Fed­er­ation, trains coaches for international football clubs. The certificate was awarded by Ger­man Am­bas­sa­dor Dr Helmut Ohlarun at his res­idence.

During the course, Choun Ma­line participated in activities de­signed to strengthen his knowledge of team tactics, basic football skills, theories of training, tasks of the football coach and football-specific sports medicine. He also watched and evaluated professional matches and practice sessions.

“The course in Germany is the best and most modern in the world,” said Choun Maline, who cited the give-and-take between the many German and international teams represented there as the most beneficial aspect of the course.

There were other participants in the course from Africa and Europe, said Choun Maline, “and we were able to watch the training units of professional teams and discuss new techniques and exchange views.”

After his retirement as a player, Choun Maline served as the team’s manager. He was promoted to assistant coach three months ago by head coach Joa­quim Fickert.

Fickert was eager to discuss the future of Cambodian football, citing the training course as an example of capacity-building. Four other players have attended the course, and Fickert hopes to train ex-players as coaches, referees and other football officials.

A hindrance to the development of the team is lack of a solid national club system, and thus little competition within the 12 to 15 pro­vin­ces that field teams at any given time. “We have no stability be­cause we don’t have any na­tional championships,” Fickert said. “This should be one of the important tasks if we want to succeed.”

Khek Ravy, president of the Cambodian football federation, echoed this sentiment, placing some of the blame on the advertising sector. Sponsors are lacking because the commercial market is so small, he said.

“[Marketing companies] want to change football according to the markets, but competition should be among the best 10 teams,” he added, explaining that the marketing firms would rather see games played in provinces that have product placement potential, rather than football potential.

“We will have to subsidize teams from the poorer provinces; [the marketing companies] have responded negatively to our requests,” Khek Ravy said

Another key to strengthening the national team’s competitiveness is international exhibition matches. Matches with China can be expected once the two countries iron out scheduling conflicts, Fickert said.

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