Sunday, November 14, 2010

They can dream

The 40 boys and PPC club coaches line up for the camera at today's final Academy trials
I've just spent the afternoon watching 40 young boys give absolutely everything they had to earn themselves a place in the final 22, the number that Phnom Penh Crown will draft into their first Elite Football Academy. The fortunate 22 were elated but it was great to see how much they consoled the boys that didn't make it. The 18 boys that won't be part of the two year residential programme will still become part of the PPC Academy and will be invited to come to the capital for coaching every couple of months and on school holidays. Just because they didn't make the elite 22 doesn't mean they will be forgotten. Afterall, these are the best of the under-13 age talent across the country after PPC conducted trials in 17 locations across Cambodia. They've left no stone unturned in their search for the cream of Cambodia's future footballing talent. And it showed during the matches I watched this afternoon. Take it from me, some of these boys are very talented individuals. They will spend the next two years getting quality coaching every morning and attending private school in the afternoons. They'll live out at the PPC training facility in Tuol Kork in specially-built dorms from January. This is a wonderful opportunity, the first of its kind in Cambodia, for these youngsters who want to follow their dreams of becoming the next Rooney, Ronaldo or Messi. To ensure the final selection over this weekend was fair, Crown invited English coaches from Malaysia (ex Chelsea manager Ken Shellito) and New Zealand (Graham McMann) to join the local coaches in assisting the boys during the trials and making the final decisions this afternoon. The diversity of locations where the boys currently live, is a great example of how widespread Crown's net has been cast with players in the final 22 coming from Phnom Penh, Kompong Chhnang, Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Kandal, Sihanoukville, Koh Kong and Stung Treng.
One of the successful 22, ten-year-old Nob Devid from Kandal
Ok Sovanna from Pursat (black) heads a goal during one of this afternoon's trial games

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