Buoyed by the relatively large Irish expat community, Gaelic Football is thriving to
such a level within the Kingdom that Cairde Khmer, a local team founded in 2017 are
set to travel to GAA Games in Derry this year. So, how exactly did this come to pass?
What is Gaelic Football?
Gaelic Football is one of the may codes of “football” that encompass Soccer, Rugby
Union, Rugby League, Australian Rules Football and American Football among
Much like its cousins in America and Australia it is dominant in but one country,
namely the Republic of Ireland. With the Irish being such world travelers though it
has taken a foothold anywhere where there are Irish people, which is a fair old bit of
And as for the game itself? We could prattle on about the rules and what makes it
unique, but to save time you can say it is a mixture between Rugby and Soccer.
You can see clip of to here.
Gaelic Football in Cambodia
The Cambodian Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) scene can trace its origins back
to the 2017 foundation of the Cairde Khmer club, which has not only provided
popular within the expat community, but also within the local Khmer community, and
among Aussie Rules and Rugby “code switchers”
Gaelic Football and Australian Rules Football are famously very similar games,
which means not only that players can swap codes, but also teams from either code
can compete against each other in hybrid “international rules” matches.
You can read about playing Gaelic Football in Cambodia here
Representing Asia at the World Games
And Cairde Khmer have been successful on the pitch, entering the October 2022
Asian Gaelic Games in Kuala Lumpur, with the team not boasting16 Khmer players,
but also qualifying for the finals, alongside their women’s team.
This has lead to their invite into the 2023 World Championship in Derry, with club
chairman and Irish national Ronan Sheehan stating “We’re entering the non-Irish
category. So you have to be from the area you’re representing to be on these teams.
We’re not representing Cambodia, we’re representing Asia. This is the first time ever
it’s been one club making up the numbers for the entirety of the region. Before it was
a mishmash of different countries sent over.”
Transporting an entire squad from Cambodia to Owenbeg in Derry doesn’t come
cheap though with estimates placing the trip around the $80,000 mark, a huge reason
for the club wishing to share their story with the world, with Sheehan further adding
““We’re reaching out frantically as much as we can…Getting our story out there so
people can know what we’re about and what we’re trying to do. At the moment,
we’ve got the GoFundMe up. That’s been going since just before Christmas. That’s
brought us up to about $10,000, that’s coming from the general public”
The club though were also keenly looking for corporate donors with Sheehan stating
“We’re looking at sponsorship as well. So we’ve been reaching out to various
companies, mostly around Ireland but in Cambodia as well. We’re pretty confident
we can do it”.
The tournament is set to start in July of 2023 and if all works out well there will a
team of largely Khmer players representing the Kingdom for the first time on the
world stage of Gaelic Football…
You can check out the Cairde Khmer, Facebook page here.