Disabled Volleyball Cup Begins

The 2007 Standing Volleyball World Cup got off to the perfect start for the home crowd Saturday, as a spectacular opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh was followed by Cambodia beating India in the first game.

Over 7,500 people attended the opening ceremony for the tournament in which teams of disabled athletes from six nations will compete for the gold. Participants in the opening included 60 Cambodian classical dancers, officials and teams from the countries involved, as well as 100 students from the Lavalla school for children with disabilities in Kandal province.

“I think people were impressed by the ceremony and saw that this is a real World Cup event,” said Chri­sto­pher Minko, secretary-general for the Cambodian National Volley­ball League (Disabled).

Cambodia, whose players are largely victims of landmines, is considered to have a serious chance of a medal at the tournament, which will culminate in the final Saturday.

Ranked number one in Asia, Cam­bodia has to battle it out with squads from Canada, Germany, In­dia, Poland and Slovakia for the top prize.

After facing Slovakia on Sunday even­ing, the home side takes on Germany, a pre-tournament favorite tonight at 6 pm.

“The games so far have been of a very high quality,” said Minko. “This is sport at an elite level and very few able-bodied teams could compete with the top guys here.”

Cabinet Minister Sok An said at the opening ceremony that he was proud that the disabled athletes from Cambodia had gained recognition worldwide.

“This is the first event in Cam­bodia’s history that gives an opportunity for disabled players to show off their ability and talent,” he said.

Cambodia coach Christian Zepp said Sunday he was happy with what he called a “comfortable” 3-0 victory over India.

He singled out spiker Man Veas­na and setter Choeum Kong for special mention.

“The team is in great physical and mental shape,” said the Germany-based Zepp. “We are ready for this tournament and we are ready to win a medal.”

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