Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cambodia, Vietnam Present Vovinam Demonstration in Phnom Penh

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

A joint Cambodian Vietnamese demonstration of the sport of Vovinam was held on July 6 at the National Stadium in Phnom Penh to illustrate the advantages of taking part in sporting activities. The competition was also a first step in the process of having the sport listed by the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS) as one worth studying.

The Cambodia Vovinam Federation (CVF) organized the demonstration. It involved representatives from the national Vovinam teams of both countries.

Rat Sokhorn, Advisor to the National Assembly President Samdech Heng Samrin and President of the Cambodian Vovinam Federation, said this was the second year that a Vovinam celebration has been held. The sport is known in Vietnam as Viet Vo Dao. It is a traditional martial art and MoEYS is looking to create a national team to represent Cambodia in international competition.

Both Cambodians and Vietnamese nationals share an enthusiasm for the sport and this is grounds enough to encourage an exchange of experience. It also provides an energetic and entertaining excuse for both nations to strengthen relations.

“As a result of this exchange, we hope that Cambodian Vovinam teams will improve their technique, cultivate the spirit of friendship and solidarity among all participating athletes and encourage our Vietnamese friends,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly during a personal interview on July 6.

Sokhorn said he initially introduced this sport to Cambodia in 2005, with a reintroduction on November 19, 2008, with the establishment the Cambodia Vovinam Federation. Sokhorn added that the CVF would provide Vovinam training to high school students, police officers, the military police and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces so they can use it for self-defense.

He added that CVF also plans to send the Cambodian Vovinam Team to the Asian Indoor Games Competition which will be held over July 26 to 30, 2009. A Cambodian delegation will also be present at the World Vovinam Championships from October 31 to November 5 in Vietnam.

Nguyen Van Chieu, Vice President of the Vietnam Vovinam Federation, National Technical Director of Vovinam Vietnam, and President of the Vovinam Association of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, said that the sport can trace its origins back to 1938. It involves both armed and unarmed combat and contestants may use their hands, elbows, feet and full contact wrestling moves. He said that currently in Vietnam, Vovinam is taught in over 200 schools and can count on the support of over 300,000 enthusiasts. The global Vovinam community is made up of 71 member countries, all represented by the World Vovinam Federation.
“All athletes participating in today’s Vovinam demonstration will learn from each other and together, we can promote Vovinam in Cambodia,” Van Chieu said. He added that as National Technical Director, he is qualified and ready to help with the coaching and training of Cambodian Vovinam athletes to bring them up to international standards.
Mel Kado, Deputy Director of the Youth and Sport Department in Ministry of Education Youth and Sport gave his full support for the Phnom Penh demonstration. To date, MoEYS has not included Vovinam as a ministry sport; yet given its popularity, the Ministry is soon to redress the omission.
“I am very pleased with the display. We will certainly be looking long and hard at including Vovinam in our curriculum. With further development, we should be able to take the sport to the point where we can win some medals at the level of international competition,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly.
Nuth Srey Roath, 22, a Cambodian Vovinam trainer, said that she has been training in the discipline for just over four months. She said she preferred Vovinam because the sport allows the contestant to make full use of a wide array of fighting techniques and some classy-looking offensive weapons.
“This is my second opportunity to display my Vovinam skills side-by-side with Vietnamese contenders,” she said. “I hope that this friendly demonstration will allow me to learn some more skills.”

According to a CVF report, there are eight Vovinam clubs with 100 boxers in Cambodia. ////

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