|Bouy Dary, head coach of Cambodia's U-14 national team|
I caught up with Bouy Dary this week to look back at his experiences as the Cambodia U-14 head coach and his team of promising youngsters, who returned recently from the AFC U-14 Festival of Football, impressing many with their style of play, their positive attitude and their sportsmanship throughout the tournament, which took place in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia earlier this month. In their nine matches, Cambodia drew three and lost six of their games, in what Dary described as a very promising series of performances against such nations as Australia, Thailand and Vietnam. The AFC themselves do not release the results of the games played at the Festival. They prefer to keep the competitive edge out of the Festival and to concentrate more on the teamwork, friendship and sportsmanship elements of the 12-nation tournament.
"I couldn't ask any more from my boys," said Dary. "We surprised everyone with our style of play. We played beautiful, passing football, all of the players have improved and they proved they could play at the highest level that their age allows. The two teams that I selected were of equal ability, everyone followed the style of play we set out for them. I must single out Long Phearath, who was fantastic. He was quite outstanding, especially against the bigger boys, as was Mat Nuron. But everyone played their part, it was a real team effort.
The boys have learnt so much. They were exposed to the culture of the different people they met from so many countries. They have learned a lot from the games they played and how to adapt their own game to different opposition. They learned from the AFC green card system of fair play and sportsmanship. Many of the boys had never flown before, but they followed our plan and were able to adapt to all the new experiences they faced quickly and easily. Personally, I took on board what the AFC were keen to promote, that the development of the boys at this age is more important than winning. I also gained a good insight and understanding into how other countries operate, which is important for us to learn from other nations.
We played good football in each match and we played fair. I am proud of the way the team performed on and off the field. Absolutely no problems. As a coaching team we also worked really hard and I can say it was a successful experience for all concerned. We were fit, our recovery was good but when we played against some of the teams like Vietnam and Thailand, they were very big by comparison and that made it hard, particularly in the attacking and defending thirds. I'm not sure about the ages of the teams we played, it's not an excuse but I looked at the teams on and off the field and many of them acted far older than their age and their attitude was very different. We held our own in most of the matches but some of the teams played the long ball and used their superior height to best advantage.
Cambodian boys are physically smaller at this age, it's all down to their background and their diet. You can see that in some of the boys who come from a good stable background, they are physically stronger. We need to work on their balance, improve their strength, their body weight and I believe they will be ready at sixteen or seventeen. I feel confident that if we look after our young players, get them good accommodation, the right food and diet and play games against good foreign opposition over the next two years, that we will improve and be in a position to win games at the U-16 level of competition. These teams are not better than us, many of our boys are already tactically and technically better, but we must look after them. It's so important. I talk to the boys a lot to encourage them, as a team and individually. They must work hard to improve and show their commitment, but now they know what the other teams are like and they can see for themselves there is no difference. That will give them great encouragement. We need to keep this group together for the next two years and I hope the Football Federation will help me to do this."
Bouy Dary is also the head coach of the Phnom Penh Crown Academy, who supplied 17 of the 22-strong squad that the Cambodia U-14s took to the AFC Festival.
|Bouy Dary working with his U-14 national team squad|