Friday, September 25, 2009
23 of the 25-man Cambodia Under-23 squad line up with the coaching staff after this morning's press conference
The national team's coaching staff. LtoR: Bouy Dary, Van Piseth, Scott O'Donell (coach) and Prak SovannyAt 9am this morning, a press conference at the Olympic Stadium gave the television and newspaper press corps the opportunity to find out more about the Cambodian Under-23 national team that will travel to Laos to challenge for the SEA Games football medals. It was pretty disorganized to be honest, the conference room was too small for the number of attendees (at least 20 news outlets were invited; they forgot to invite me), there was no translation into English so it was aimed strictly at the local press, the cameramen muscled in and stuck their cameras everywhere, the media boys didn't stop talking amongst themselves, mobile phones continually went off, just about everything that would never happen at a 'serious' press conference was allowed to happen at this one. I know it's only a press conference but being professional about these things doesn't take a genius to arrange. Anyway the cameras from Apsara, CTN, Bayon, etc were stuck in my face a few times when I asked questions so I should be on the news programmes tonight, especially as I was the only barang besides Scott O'Donell, the national team coach. Scott, the team manager Vann Ly and general secretary Ouk Sethycheat were the ones answering questions, though Vann is recently appointed and even though I attend nearly every one of the CPL games, I'd never clapped eyes on the federation's general secretary before. Scott repeated a fair bit of what he told me during our interview a couple of days ago, especially as I asked the same questions, just to give the press boys a bit more information. Their own questions were very limited and repetitive. The coach also promised, "I'll guarantee that each player will give 100% and do their country proud," when asked about their commitment. The general secretary responded to my question about incentives, saying that the government will pay each player 24 million riel ($6,000) if they win the gold medal, 16 million riel for silver and 8 million riel for bronze, in addition to their salary and daily expenses. The team will spend most of October and the latter half of November in training camp in Vietnam, where they will play five matches in the first spell and another two games in the second stint against club sides from the Vietnam League. They have a mini-tournament in Phnom Penh early in November and when they reach the SEA Games, they are guaranteed at least 3 games in the group stages. All in all, a very busy couple of months following their opening match against Singapore this Sunday. After an hour, the proceedings came to a close and the squad went onto the pitch for a team photograph before dispersing. At no stage during the press conference did anyone ask the players a question.
The top table at the press conference. LtoR: Van Piseth, Scott O'Donell, Ouk Sethycheat (gen sec), Vann Ly (team manager).