From the sidelines, Man Veasna watched as the two Canadian players hit the volleyball back and forth between each other as a warm up before their match against Australia.
In the stands, dozens of disabled Cambodians who have been playing standing men’s volleyball for years watched closely, trying to learn what they could from the world’s top-ranked team.
The Canadians were undefeated in the tournament. But because they are not from the Asia-Pacific region, Cambodia was named Asia-Pacific champions after defeating Australia on Friday.
That was how Cambodia’s first international sporting tournament in decades, the World Organization Volleyball for Disabled Asia-Pacific Championships, came to a close last week.
In the end, however, it was all about learning.
“We kept our eyes on [the Canadian and Australian players] and saw how they moved and reacted,” said Man Veasna, who started playing four years ago after losing his arm when a land mine he was playing with exploded.
“Now we have new experiences from this competition,” he said.
Cambodia fielded two teams in the competition, including its national team which is ranked sixth in the world behind the top ranked Canadians and above the eighth-place Australians, in a tournament that wasn’t entirely focused on competition.
“This tournament marks how far Cambodia has come,” said Steve Walton of the WOVD. “There is no bank of experience in international competitions. We see the tournament as important for building Cambodia’s experience,”