New Deaf Women’s Volleyball Team to Take On Uzbekistan

A team of young deaf women who first picked up volleyballs about six weeks ago is training to go head to head with Uzbekistan in an exhibition match during the disabled volleyball world cup at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium next month.

Standing on the edge of a practice session on Sunday, player Ouk Chan­tha, 27, said in sign language that the team practiced every weekend. “It’s really hard. I’m not sure if we will win or lose,” she said. But “I am happy to be part of the group and try my best to play.”

The women gestured to each other while trying to learn basic volleyball techniques on Sunday under the sun in the yard of a garment factory in Dangkao district.

American coach Patrick Russell, who has impaired hearing and manages manufacturing at Cam­bodian Textiles Worldwide, said that the forthcoming match would be a challenge. “At the end of the day, for these girls the whole point is to find an outlet in sport that they’ve never had before,” Mr Russell said.

Six deaf players were recruited through NGO Hope for Deaf and Han­dicap Organization, and three others work at his garment factory, he added, noting that he coached us­ing hand signals, mimed actions and an interpreter.

Christopher Minko, secretary-general of the Cambodian National Volleyball League Disabled, said that Uzbekistan had asked to send a women’s deaf team to the world cup, so a team was formed here. “It’s the first deaf women’s sports team in Cam­bodia,” Mr Minko said.

Sinuon Peng, executive director of HDHO, welcomed the opportunity for deaf people, who often cannot find work, to play sport.

Ms Chantha said that she did not have a job despite studying at the Cam­­­bodian Disabled People’s Or­gani­zation and learning motorcycle re­pair with the NGO Mith Samlanh.

Cambodia’s disabled men’s standing volleyball team will play Laos, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Ger­many and Egypt during the World Or­ganization Volleyball for the Dis­abled World Cup between July 23 and 29. The national team, coached by German Christian Zepp, came fourth in the 2009 world cup, also hos­ted by Cambodia.



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