So how would I sum up my SEA Games experience, even though its still taking place and there's lots more medals to be won, but I'm back in Phnom Penh, trying to catch it on tv. Well, firstly, it was wonderful to see how much the people of Laos have made it such an important event to them and their country. Everyone is talking about it, it seems nearly everyone is involved in it in some way, and it really seems to have captured the imagination of the whole nation. If they manage to win the football, all hell will break loose. I don't think the country would ever stop celebrating. Not that them winning gold is likely, but it would be something special if it did happen. I found the Lao people in general to be very friendly and most welcoming, as I did when I first visited the country about a year ago. Whilst some of the officials involved in the organization are a pain the ass (but that's the world over), generally the overall plan seems to be working, it just falls down sometimes when you get to the nitty gritty details, as we found with the football team on a couple of occasions. Not being allowed into the stadium for the opening match readily springs to mind. The Games are certainly a great opportunity to mix with other nationalities for the competitors, which is always beneficial. Though from my viewpoint, it would be better if the Cambodian contingent had met each other before they went to Laos, to engender more team spirit amongst the various competitors representing our country. That was certainly lacking. The football team didn't know the petanque team who didn't know the tennis team, and so on. That needs a lot more work by the olympic committee in the future, to build up a national comraderie and support for each other. The lack of live television coverage, because of the fees involved, haven't helped in generating interest in the Games in Cambodia. That too needs addressing, as the interest in other countries such as Laos, obviously, but also Vietnam and Thailand is huge. You wouldn't believe the number of people from Vietnam who are either in Laos right now, or watching it all day long on the tv. They are taking the Games very seriously, whilst most Cambodians probably don't even know they are taking place. A legacy of the Games will be improved sports facilities in Laos, which would be a great benefit if Cambodia were ever to host the Games. Personally I had a good time with the football team, despite the results, we got on well and they treated me like one of their own. I hope they will be able to separate the valuable experiences they've gone through from the disappointing results as many of them are eligible for the Games in two years time and this tournament will make them stronger players for that. My thanks to Scott and the rest of the team for their support during our two weeks together. I enjoyed meeting old friends, making new ones and confirming for myself what a lovely country Laos is. Overall, I enjoyed it immensely.
Labels: SEA Games