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Sihanoukville Youth Football tournament and training program participants line up for opening ceremonies - NR photo

Tin Sarin - NR photo

Tola May - NR photo

Johan Visser - NR photo

Siem Reap Province children playing football in the rain - NR photo


Cambodian Youth Football Tournament Begins - March, 2003

James Loving/National Radio Text Service


Sihanoukville First Cambodian Province To Organize Youth Football Tournament. To show their support the Cambodian Football Federation donated 400,000 riel ($100) to the organization.


Saturday March 15, 2003


Cambodia's first ever province youth football tournament and training program commenced Sunday March 9, 2003 in the beach town and province of Sihanoukville. Following the opening ceremonies matches were played throughout the day. The tournament will continue through to the end of March.

Three hundred and six players comprise thirty-four nine-man teams that are participating in three age groups under twelve, fourteen and sixteen. The event came together through the efforts of Tin Sarin. Sarin is also Sihanoukville's deputy commissioner of police. He formed the Youth Football Camp of Sihanoukville and serves as its president. He explained what prompted his idea.

"I wanted to reduce the bad social behavior of the youths such as drugs, gambling, and forming gangs," he said. "It's good for their health, also social solidarity. The youths can know each other and be friends by playing football.

"I urge coaches to teach social behavior, respect and morality. One of the problems in Cambodia is children get involved in drugs, gambling and gangs."

The event cost one thousand US dollars. To show their support the Cambodian Football Federation donated 400,000 riel ($100) to the organization. Tola May the Director of Coaching and Youth Development for the Federation made the presentation.

"The tournament is very good, its encouragement and motivation for the boys," May said after the ceremony. "They attract other boys to come in and get involved. It's a positive sign. In the provinces families don't think about sport they think about feeding their family."

Regarding Sarin's efforts May said, "He cares about the boys. You need that love for the boys (and) love for the game. I'm very impressed about this tournament, everything looks organized."

As the players marched out in the opening ceremonies some were without matching uniforms. Most noticeable was a sixteen-year-old player without shoes. Uniforms donning Coca Cola and O2 were most prominent. The need for sponsors was evident.

A playing field is something that many in the western world take for granted. In Cambodia they are scarce and Sihanoukville has one.

Johan Visser the Director of Don Bosco Foundation of Cambodia donated the use of the schools field.

"Our purpose is to help youth and sport is very important," Visser said.

Three hundred students attend Don Bosco tuition free. In addition students are provided with two basketball/volleyball courts that are in excellent condition. Without the schools pitch this football tournament would not have happened.

Visser pointed out why the Don Bosco Foundation feels sports and having good facilities is important.

"Without sports facilities is like a house without music. It's (sports) healthy. We like to create sports facilities. It's just as important as the classroom. Sports forms character."

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