Cambodian Soft Tennis athletes and their coach touched down in Phnom Penh after an almost two-month training camp in Japan.
They had left Cambodia for their training camp on June 7 only returning to the capital on Tuesday. For training in Japan, it was reported the Cambodian Soft Tennis Federation shelled out $12,000 for accommodation, catering, and training as well as a further $4,500 on travel costs.
Japanese coach Masato Ogiwara led the five Cambodian athletes – Khieu Sophan, Ek Chamroeun, Yi Sararith, Dem Sum Sophearun, and Oun Sambath – for training in Japan. The Federation stated that training in Japan would provide crucial experience ahead of the Jakarta Asian Games. It would also help develop their ability from a world leader in the sport.
Cambodian Soft Tennis athletes has shown great strides in recent years. They brought back seven medals from last months’ 4th Agel World Tour Asian Soft Tennis Championships in Pattaya. A total of 13 athletes and 17 coaches and delegates were sent to Thailand which cost the Federation an estimated $10,000.
Soft tennis has most of the same rules as regular tennis, although the lesser known equivalent utilises soft rubber balls instead of the hard yellow balls in regular tennis. It is played primarily in Asia, with Japan regarded as the strongest nation.
In February, Cambodia’s Soft Tennis Federation held its General Assembly at the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia headquarters, concluding its first mandate (2014-2018).
For the new mandate which will span 2018-2022, the federation said it plans to ramp up training to enable the kingdom to participate in major international competitions.
The federation also said sending athletes abroad for training would be necessary as they prepare for the the 29th 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines and 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia.
Government minister Sar Kheng, known as a supporter of the sport, was announced as president of the federation, while Mr. Bunheng maintained his role as first vice-president of the second mandate 2018-2022.
The Cambodian team, led by vice-president Mr. Bunheng who is also the president of the Ministry of Interior’s sports department, has stated the government wanted to increase participation in the lesser-played racquet sport.