Archivio mensile:settembre 2013

We want to reach the semi-finals at the SEA Games: interview with Football Federation Cambodia (FFC) technical director May Tola

The FFC (Football Federation Cambodia) official logo

Stagnation is the most appropriate word to define the status quo of Cambodian football. The men’s national team of the former Khmer Empire has lost all the matches played in 2012 and 2013, and its most recent results have been a 0-7 thumping by Turkmenistan and a 0-8 annihilation from Southeast Asian counterparts Philippines. Also, Cambodia’s position in the FIFA Ranking is currently at 199, the team’s lowest ever.

However, the governing body of local football, the FFC (Football Federation Cambodia), is eager to reverse the trend and give disappointed Cambodian fans something to cheer about in the near future, especially by growing up local talents who could help the national team’s cause.

We spoke to FFC technical director May Tola to discover what’s in store for Cambodian football in the years to come.

How is Cambodian football progressing at grassroots level? Does the FFC have any plan to increase the number of areas where it’s currently played?

Grassroots football in Cambodia is increasing popularity and it’s played more and more by community, schools as well as NGOs. We see that every year, more football activities/events have been organized by the aforementioned institutions to provide opportunities for children and people to take part in football. In our long term development of football, grassroots is one of our top priorities. We will be increasing activities mainly at provincial level and at schools to promote the game among children and adults.

Cambodia has a great percentage of youth people. Do you think their interest is growing in these last years?

Yes, there are more youth teams and players who play football officially and unofficially each year.

Where do you think Cambodian football should improve most in this moment?

We will have to reform our competitions structure and format to provide more opportunities to play football nation-wide. In this moment, because of limited infrastructures (stadiums, pitches etc), football is more organized and played in Phnom Penh, while there is a much greater number of youth footballers in all provinces and districts. We need to have more coaches, volunteers, teachers to be football educators and leaders in our community.

Which are the chances of seeing overseas-based half-Cambodian players, such as Chhunly Pagenburg of FSV Frankfurt and Colorado Rapids’ Davy Armstrong, wearing the national team’s shirt in the future?

We have been contacting Chhunly and Davy Armstrong for the last few years, but it seems that they had to give priority to their professional career in Germany and USA. We always welcome overseas-based players for Cambodia.

Do you think there are Cambodian players who could play abroad at professional level? If yes, could you name some of them?

There are some Cambodians from Australia, France that came for a trial but they have not been successful. As I don’t have much information about others, I can’t say who can or cannot play for the country. But, the fact that there are some players currently in professional leagues such as Chhunly and Davy Armstrong, means that they have good quality.

Which are Cambodia targets for the upcoming SEA Games in Myanmar?

We have to be realistic, if we set our target for the last four [the semi-finals] of the tournament and we manage to do it, then it would be an enormous victory, [it would be] historical and also a big surprise, which could always happen in football. Any target lower than this, won’t make any impression.

Why did the team perform so poorly in the last qualifiers for the 2012 Suzuki Cup and 2014 Challenge Cup? Which were the biggest problems and weaknesses in your opinion?

The problem is the quality of our league (players’ performances, level of coaching, duration of the league), which is still low compared to the [Southeast Asian] region. Another problem was the preparation of the team, which was very short and in poor conditions, and all this made the players’ spirit not very tough and stable.

Which has been the influence of politics in Cambodian football in the past? And what about now?

The influences of politics in Cambodian football have been more positive than negative. The positive thing is that politicians give more support financially, with materials and infrastructures which are needed for football. However, sometimes politicians use football for their own individual interests, circles, parties, but not in the name of the nation which should be the motto of the game.

What are your thoughts about ASEAN football in general? Do you think the region is improving in the right direction?

ASEAN football has been an additional platform to improve politics, culture, solidarity and of course football technical development as well as economic interests of its members. These benefits have been stable or gradually improving in last years. However, recent political chaos in the world from FIFA to AFC and all the other continents has influenced ASEAN spirit and solidarity. But I’m confident that, by believing in the good nature of experienced people in ASEAN now and in the future, they can agree with each other for the development of the game and share it with all the members.

By Christian Rizzitelli

Some videos:

Highlights of Cambodia’s 4-2 win over Laos in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on June 29, 2011,, the team’s last competitive victory:

Cambodia’s last defeat against the Philippines:

“Stiamo lentamente attirando interesse”: intervista con Charles Mitchell, presidente della federazione delle Palau (PFA)

Il piccolo arcipelago delle Palau non è certamente noto ai più per i suoi exploit calcistici, non avendo mai partecipato ad alcun torneo organizzato dalla FIFA o in nessun altra competizione ufficiale. Tuttavia, recentemente la federazione locale, la Palau Football Association (PFA), ha presentato alcuni progetti ambiziosi che potrebbero dar inizio ad un primo, vero movimento calcistico sulle isole. Nonostante alcune difficoltà oggettive, come una popolazione di soli 20,000 abitanti e il continuo confronto con lo sport dominante sulle Palau, il baseball, il presidente Charles Mitchell e lo staff della PFA sono fiduciosi che il futuro prossimo del calcio sulle isole riserverà molte più sorprese di quanto ci si possa aspettare.

Asianoceanianfootball lo ha intervistato per scoprire i piani futuri, gli obiettivi e l’attuale progresso del calcio sulle piccole e remote – ma non demotivate – Palau.

Quando fu introdotto il calcio sulle Palau per la prima volta?

Per quanto ne sappia, il calcio fu organizzato e giocato per la prima volta negli anni novanta, ma ho sentito anche di partite di calcio giocate all’inizio degli anni settanta. La PFA venne formata ufficialmente nel 2002, e diventò una federazione posta sotto l’egida del comitato olimpico delle Palau (Palau National Olympic Committee).

Quante possibilità ci sono di vedere la nazionale delle Palau ai prossimi Giochi del Pacifico e ai Giochi di Micronesia?

C’è una grande possibilità di giocare ai Giochi del Pacifico. Per quanto riguarda i Giochi della Micronesia, dipende se il paese organizzatore lo aggiungerà [il calcio] al programma. Il problema più grande per le isole micronesiane è mettere insieme funzionari adeguati, strutture per giocare e strumenti [necessari].

Quanto sono vicine le Palau a diventare un membro effettivo dell’EAFF, la federazione di calcio dell’Asia dell’Est?

In questo momento, le Palau si trovano in una fase di stallo con l’EAFF. Noi mandammo una richiesta nel 2008 ma da allora non abbiamo ricevuto alcuna risposta. La PFA non possiede un contatto diretto con l’EAFF.

La nazionale delle Tuvalu, un’altra nazione del Pacifico non iscritta alla FIFA, recentemente è migliorata molto grazie all’aiuto di una fondazione di volontari olandesi muniti di tanta passione, e ora le Tuvalu sono vicine come non mai a diventare un membro ufficiale della FIFA. Pensi che un aiuto del genere proveniente dall’estero possa rivelarsi utile anche per le Palau? E dov’è che la federazione ha più bisogno d’aiuto?

Sì, penso che un aiuto del genere possa risultare utile. Anche se, in un certo senso, è una sorta di terno al lotto perché la maggior parte di queste fondazioni dovrebbe fornirci cose che non possiamo permetterci come i biglietti per gli aerei e i posti in cui alloggiare. È molto difficile acquistare tutto questo visto che la PFA è composta interamente da volontari e non ha fondi a sufficienza. Direi che il nostro più grande bisogno riguarda le risorse umane e il personale per l’amministrazione.

Qual è il posto riservato al calcio nella gerarchia sportiva delle Palau?

Il calcio nelle Palau è attualmente in fondo alla gerarchia degli sport ma lentamente sta attirando interesse.

Ci potresti dare una presentazione delle squadre che competono nella Palau Soccer League, il campionato palauano?

Tutte le informazioni sul campionato palauano possono essere trovare sul sito ufficiale della federazione, www.palaufootball.sportingpulse.net

Visto che non siete ancora un membro della FIFA, pensi che le Palau possano giocare in alcuni tornei riservati esclusivamente alle nazionali non iscritte alla FIFA, come la VIVA World Cup o gli Island Games?

Noi lo speriamo, ma è ancora da definire.

Quanto è importante lo sport nello stile di vita della gente palauana?

Gli sport giocano un ruolo importante nella cultura delle Palau. Lo sport aiuta a farsi un carattere e fornisce gli strumenti per diventare un cittadino produttivo nella società.

Quali sono gli obiettivi primari della PFA per i prossimi mesi?

I nostri obiettivi primari sono di continuare ad organizzare regolarmente il campionato nazionale e dopo [di creare] dei centri sportivi scolastici e un campionato giovanile. C’è anche la volontà di introdurre il calcio nelle scuole superiori, ma [un piano] non è ancora stato stabilito ufficialmente.

Di Christian Rizzitelli

“We’re slowly gaining interest”: Interview with Palau Football Association (PFA) president Charles Mitchell

The tiny archipelago of Palau may be very little known for its footballing achievements, having never competed in any FIFA tournament nor in any other official competition. But there are ambitious plans, mainly from the local federation, the Palau Football Association (PFA), that could make the future much more different from what we’ve seen so far. Despite having to face some difficulties, such as a restrict population of only 20,000 and the local domination of other sports, especially baseball, almost worshipped as a religion on Palau, president Charles Mitchell and the PFA staff are confident that a proper footballing culture could be set up on the islands in the near future.

Asianoceanianfootball spoke to him to discover future plans, targets and the current progress of football on the remote and tiny – but not demotivated – Palau.

When football was played first in Palau?

As far as I know, football was organized and played in the late 90’s but have heard of football being introduced and played in the early 70’s. In 2002 PFA was officially formed and became a federation under the Palau National Olympic Committee.

How many chances are there to see Palau national football team playing the next South Pacific Games? And Micronesian Games?

There is a great chance to compete in the South Pacific Games. As for the Micronesian Games, it depends on if the host country will add to their program. The biggest challenge for most of the Micronesian islands is putting forth proper officials, playing facilities, and equipment.

How close is Palau from becoming a full member of the EAFF?

At this moment, Palau is at a stand still with the EAFF. An application was submitted in 2008 and no response since. The PFA has no direct contact with the EAFF.

Tuvalu national football team, another non-FIFA member Pacific nation, has improved a lot in last two years thanks to the help of a Dutch foundation created by passioned volunteers in the Netherlands, and now they are very close to get their FIFA membership. Do you think this kind of help from abroad could help Palau? And where Palauan football needs help most?

I do believe this assistance could help. Though in a way it’s kind of a “catch 22” because most of these organizations need for us to provide items we can’t afford such as: plane tickets and accommodations. It’s very difficult to acquire these items being that the PFA is made up of all volunteers and lack of funding. I’d say our biggest need would be human resources and administration.

Which is the state of football in Palau sport hierarchy?

Palau football is currently at the low end of the hierarchy but slowly gaining interest.

Can you give us a presentation of the teams competing in the Palau Soccer League?

All the info can be found on the PFA official website, www.palaufootball.sportingpulse.net

As you are still to become a FIFA member, do you think Palau national team could play in some non-FIFA international tournaments, such as VIVA World Cup or the Islands Games?

We hope, but it is yet to be determined.

How much important are sports in Palauan people’s culture?

Sports play a big role in the Palauan culture. Sports help create character and provide the tools to become a productive citizen of society.

Which are the PFA current primary goals for next months?

Our primary goals are to continue the sustainability of our Adult League and after school clinics as well as create a youth league. There is also an interest to introduce the sport to high schools, but yet to be official.

By Christian Rizzitelli

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