Cambodian Gaelic Football Team To Represent Kingdom in World Championship

Cambodian Gaelic Football

The term “Cambodian Gaelic Football team” might not be a phrase you expect to hea all that often, but exist they do and indeed are good enough to have qualified for the “Gaelic Football World Cup”.  Which of course begs the question of how did this come to pass?

BPVE went to talk to Ronan Sheehan of Cairde Khmer, Cambodia’s premier Gaelic football team.

Gaelic Football in Cambodia

If you’ve not heard of Gaelic Football, you are without doubt not alone. The sport though hugely popular in Ireland has hardly taken the world by storm in a way that say soccer, or rugby have.

It is though popular wherever there is an Irish diaspora, which  it turns out is quite a lot of places.

Cairde Khmer were themselves founded in 2017 by two Irishman, namely Conor Wall and Paddy Campbell initially as a “bit of fun”, but has since grown in popularity to such a level that they will now be representing Cambodia on the global stage.

Initially the club was made up exclusively of westerners, with many people “code switching” according to Sheehan from Aussie Rules, as well as Rugby in what has become a bit of a loyal cross sport community.

To read about the opening day of the SEA Games click here.

The Growth of Gaelic Football in Cambodia

And from these humble beginnings the sport began to grow within the country, not only attracting foreigners, but local players of both sexes. This has gone to such a degree that the club can now boast that 90 percent of their players are Khmer, a rarity for Gaelic Football clubs within the region.

According to Sheehan on training nights there can be up to 50 Khmer players, as well as foreigners, with this level of interest being partly what has led them to the World Gaelic Games.

The World Gaelic Games

Set to be hosted in Derry in July, as Sheehan put it “You don’t qualify as such, but are picked to represent your region. We went to the 2022 Asian Gaelic Games, with our men’s and women’s teams both being predominately Khmer. Both of them did amazingly, with our women’s team reaching the final, and both teams attracting huge plaudits and a bit of a cult following”.

And it was this according to Sheehan that led the regional association to nominate the team to reprint Asia in the “non-Irish” category.  Initially the club were not sure if they should, or even could take part, before deciding to raise the money and take the plunge.

According to Sheehan there will be over 100+ teams at the tournament, meaning it will be a fairly huge competition. And not just that, but it has led to a lot of media coverage, which has included not only Irish media, but also big hitters from the BBC among others.

This though had not fazed the players at all according to Sheehan, with him adding “It is not just media, but the team have even met representatives from the Irish and British embassies. Far from phasing them it has actually helped inspire them. Training whilst still fun, is also much more professional now”.

But of course taking a bunch of Cambodian players to Ireland is not exactly cheap, which has meant the club needing to raise funds, something they have been aided by with the intense media coverage. Sheehan was though keen to pint out that donations were still being accepted.

“Anyone who wants to help with money certainly can. There are different options, such as our GoFund me campaign. And if you are in Cambodia it is even simpler, with us taking ABA payments. We will also launch a scheme for $500 to sponsor a player in the near future. Sponsors will get you a bunch of stuff, such as our iconic jersey, as well as a letter from the player. Anyone interested in doing this should contact the club”.

And that is the unlikely story about how a Cambodian Gaelic Football Club are going to be taking on the world!

You can check their GoFund me page here.

This article is adapted from BPVE, ( reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review. (
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