Sunday, February 17, 2013

Big day in the sun

Keeping an eye on the press at the official opening of the CFDL. Pic courtesy of Ken Gadaffi.
Prince Ali meets one of the PPCFC teams and presents them with a football

Everyone cheers the start of the CFDL at Olympic Stadium
Long day in the sun. Bright red face. Exhausted but happy as larry, as everything went so smoothly. The morning's youth league opening at the Olympic Stadium went like clockwork considering we had one of world football's top power-brokers on hand to give us his seal of approval. After a quick burger (and indigestion) for lunch it was off to the RSN Stadium to launch the Phnom Penh Crown fan club and hold our first ever open day. Another roaring success in anyone's book. More later when I've had a few moments in a darkened room and applied some after-sun lotion.

Okay I've had said lie-down and am now refreshed. Young footballers from 10-16 are simply not catered for sufficiently in Cambodian football. They get few opportunities for regular sport, let alone well-organised team sports, especially football. The schools rarely cater for it and aside from a handful of clubs, it's all pretty hit and miss. Hence why Phnom Penh Crown have got their heads together with another half a dozen teams to form the new Cambodia Football Development League with age groups set at U-12, U-14 and U-16. It all kicked-off on Sunday morning with a series of friendly showpiece matches, some 300 boys and 1 girl playing across 22 teams, at the Olympic Stadium, on three pitches and a noise level only surpassed by a Justin Bieber concert. The league format competition, which will take place most weekends by the mainly Phnom Penh-based teams, though Kompong Chhnang and Prek Kdam are represented, was timed perfectly to coincide with the visit of Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, one the FIFA's Vice President's no less, who graciously agreed to officially open the league. As soon as he arrived in the country he was whisked off to the stadium, where he was given a rapturous welcome by the youngsters, offered up a speech and then met each team before heading to his hotel. It was a great start for the fledgling competition. The action continued after his departure and all-in-all, an excellently stage-managed event went like clockwork. Hats off to the organisers, oh, that was Phnom Penh Crown then. Now we're off to Tuol Kork.

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