Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cambodia Sends Players to Southeast Asian Table Tennis Competition

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Six Cambodian table tennis players including four male and two female players have attended the 15th Southeast Asia Junior Table Tennis Championship. The competition will take place over five days from June 18 to 22, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. The competition is organized by the Southeast Asian Table Tennis Association (SEATTA), according to representatives of the Cambodian Table Tennis Federation (CTTF).

Okha Rat Sokhorn, Advisor to the National Assembly President and President of the CTTF, said the Cambodian delegation would be joined by over ten other countries with membership of SEATTA.

Okha Sokhorn has much experience of the game. He too represented his nation in the sport from 1981 to 1987. He said that the main purpose of the competition was to demonstrate the skill of the national team and hopefully come away some medals. In addition to this, the President said that objectives included the strengthening of regional ties through sport and the promotion of table tennis in general.

“This is the fifteenth outing to the Southeast Asia Junior Table Tennis Championship for our national table tennis team. We are all looking forward to a bit of tennis action and some warm Thai hospitality. We are also thrilled at the prospect of international level competition, as this will throw the spotlight of publicity firmly in our direction. Of course, we hope to win some medals for the honor of our country. The competitors will also improve their game, exchange techniques with other players and gain valuable experience,” he said during a personal interview with The Southeast Asia Weekly on June 16.

The President pointed out that since 1995, the CTTF has been active in sending its players to international competitions, including the Southeast Asian Games. Unfortunately, there have been no medals yet due to a lack of training and equipment. However, the President hopes to redress the imbalance in this year’s tournament.

He continued that in 2007, CTTF sent a table tennis team to attend an international competition in China. Out of 42 countries participating, the Cambodian team was ranked sixteenth. In 2008, there were tournaments in Indonesia, though again, no medals.

He added that the reason why the national team was not able to win medals was that some participating countries hired the best players from other nations to represent them, as well as the lack of training and equipment cited earlier.

“Although our team lacks refinement, I believe that with hard work, training and patience and financial support from the Federation, they will able to win medals in future,” he said. With this in mind’, he continued, “I will use my own money to send young, talented players for training in Vietnam and China at some point in the future”.

He added that the Federation also planed to establish the Cambodian International Table Tennis Training Center by 2010. There are also plans to invite veteran foreign table tennis players from Korean, China or Vietnam to train Cambodian players.

Sun Sothearith, General Secretary of the CTTF, said that besides attending the 15th competition in Thailand, there are plans to send the national team to the Nanning International Table Tennis Invitational Tournament. This will occur during the China-ASEAN Expo 2009 from June 24 to 25 in China. The team will also visit the 25th SEA Games in Vientiane, Laos.

Sothearith said that the CTTF also plans to host the 16th Southeast Asia Junior Table Tennis Championship in mid-June 2010. Ten countries will participate in this tournament.

The General Secretary said that to select the best players for competitions, the CTTF plans to organize a nationwide wide table tennis competition over five days in August 2009 at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.

According to the CTTF, the national team consists of six national players. There are also 15 table tennis clubs and associations with over 100 members.

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