Friday, January 16, 2009

Maiden Horse Back Riding Contest holds in Phnom Penh


The Equestrian Contest is one of Cambodia’s most popular sports according to Bou Chumserey, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports (MoEYS).

However Chumserey said that due to over two decades of civil war, the sport has all but disappeared in Cambodia. Nevertheless, due to progress and development, the sport has been re-introduced by a French Equestrian Club in Phnom Penh.

“I am delighted that the sport has been reintroduced to our people and I hope that they will take a keen interest in the sport. I hope that we will have potential to compete at international level in future,” he told the Cambodia Weekly.

Soraya Ourrais, Director of the Cambodian Country Club (CCC), which is managed by a French group in Phnom Penh, said that about 80 youngsters from Cambodia, France, the US and UK will attend the Norodom Sihanouk Show jumping Competition 2009 in Phnom Penh.

Soraya, who has 20-years working experience with horses in European Countries, said that the competition will be held on January 11 at the CCC club, situated in Sangkat Teuk Thla, Khan Russey Keo, Phnom Penh.

“The purpose of the Norodom Sihanouk Competition is to select good riders for Cambodia. It is also a good opportunity to promote horse riding for future generations,” said Soraya.

“I hope with this competition, the kids will experience horse riding and will be able to compete at competition level in future,” she told the Cambodia Weekly.

Soraya said that the competition was organized over three separate days January 11, January 25, with the finals being held on February 7, 2009. She said there were gold, silver and bronze medals plus a range of other gifts for the winners all of which were generously provided by the CCC.

Soraya emphasized that to promote the equestrian sport in Cambodia, the CCC will send four of the best riders to participate in the International Horse Back Riding Competition in Thailand in this year. She said that CCC will also send Cambodian riders to participate in the SEA Games Competitions in future.

“I hope that this year we will send some representatives to Thailand. In future, we would like to participate in the SEA Games Competition, too, but we have to attend more international competitions before we can send competitors to the SEA Games,” she said.

She added, “We would like to hold the first competitions for teenagers, and we will look around South East Asia for other competitions that accepts teenage competitors. But as soon as we have achieved the prerequisites, we will be training hard for Cambodian representation at the SEA Games.”

Referring to the Equestrian Center, Soraya said that it was established in 2005. She continued that it helps young riders grow to be stronger, less stressed, and more in control of their lives. She added that another objective of the center was to link with the history of horse riding in Cambodia.

“With history in mind, we asked the former King Norodom Sihanouk to help us by lending his name to the championship. He accepted and now we used the name of King Norodom Sihanouk in our championship competitions,” she said. “We are a part of the Equestrian Federation in Southeast Asia and we work with Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos, Philippines and Vietnam to promote competition riders,” she added.

Soraya continued that there are about 24 horses and ponies in the center with 90 percent of ponies bought from the Cambodian countryside. She said that the horses were imported from Thailand, Australia, and France. There are now over 100 young members including 60 foreign riders and over 50 Cambodian riders in the club. She said the fees range from $13 to $16 for a one hour lesson.

Sim Narith, 15, a Cambodian rider, said he has been training since 2006.

“I am happy to be a riding student of CCC. I decided to train in horse riding because I love horses and want to make a name for myself as a Cambodian equestrian.” he said. “I hope with training and experience, I will win the Champion Competition 2009’,” he added.

Narith said that he has already won two medals from horse riding competitions in Cambodia, the first in 2007 with a second in 2008.

Ellen Nordlund, 11, a rider from Sweden, said that she and her sisters also train with CCC.

“I have only been riding for three days so I will not attend the competition. I like horse riding because it is a fun way of getting regular exercise,” she told the Cambodia Weekly.

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