Exclusive Interview – Arran James Horton, the King of Cambodian Football

Aran James Horton

It was not so long ago that coverage of Cambodian football, particularly in English was all, but none existent. Then up stepped Arran James Horton and his Kingdom of Football Facebook page and the benchmark was literally set.

Yet while many know Kingdom of Football, few know much about the man behind the project. An inspiration to both BPVE and Cambodia Sports Review , we sat down with Aran to talk about all things Cambodian football.

To read our interview with the Phnom Penh Crown coach click here.

 What’s your background and what led you to Cambodia?

Arran James Horton – My background has always been in the Football Industry. After graduating University I’ve had almost 20 years working professionally. I’ve worked in a variety of roles from coaching, development and management. My recent post was with Leeds United representing the club in Asia, unfortunately due to two factors of the Hong Kong conflict and then Covid-19 this post came to an end, and the opportunity arose to come to Cambodia.

Kingdom of football is a real fans favorite, what led to its setup?

Arran James Horton – The idea came to me when I first arrived in Cambodia. Although there was sports media available I found it very fragmented and without quality content that could be insightful or give an opinion. It also was not solely focused on Cambodian football. The second part was I didn’t feel the fans were engaged enough. Like a lot of people I had free time during the lockdown periods and we just started making the content.

I’ve always enjoyed it for those who know 606 Football Phone or Arsenal Fan TV, where fans are part of the discussion and I thought it would be good if we added that factor. Bella Yin came on board and did our first fan interviews outside the stadiums and I guess this was when KOF was really born. 

What are your future plans, TV, podcasts?

Arran James Horton – I think some football channels can get tiresome when it’s just one presenter and one type of content. Our first plan at the moment is to build a team of young talented presenters and content creators who can bring the football media via a variety of methods. We have a great guy called Cancel Code who has joined us for our football chat show, as well as Rayuth Nuthkhonn who makes a lot of our content. I hope we can have a team who can operate on different levels from quick post match reactions to more in depth analysis and discussion of games.

How can Cambodia improve its sports coverage?

Arran James Horton – The CPL has done a great job and the standards have improved. As somebody who watches every game I think we are focusing too much on quantity rather than quality. Overall the coverage of matches is poor. Yes, we should broadcast every match, but we really need to enhance the coverage of the selected big match also with an exclusive time. At the moment we get half full stadiums, with adequate coverage. I would love to see one big match with excellent coverage and a full stadium.

Secondly we still need to work on getting fans into the stadiums. I’ve been impressed a lot with ISI Dangkor Senchey, there not just building a football club but a community. If we can keep increasing the fan base and clubs identity which they feel connected to, this will create an exciting passionate atmosphere around the games which will benefit the coverage. For any part of the Football Industry to grow in Cambodia it starts with fans attending games regularly. 

What next for your career?

Arran James Horton – KOF Is continuing to grow, and I will continue to lead its development. If we can create opportunities for more young Khmers who love football to be able to have their own careers in the industry and show how talented they are, that is the next part of our process I am excited to achieve. I continue to be involved in other projects in football, and I’m dedicated to making all these continue to improve and enjoy the journey.

Big question? Crown for a 3rd, Svay Rieng or someone else?

Arran James Horton – I think Phnom Penh Crown have a great playing style, you can tell they are very well coached. Visakha will improve and with their investment in a new coaching staff we have already seen an improvement in how they prepare for games and especially set pieces which will increase their goals, however I still think they lack the playing quality especially with the recent announcement of Keo Sokpheng retiring will be a big loss. Nagaworld is another team who have everything in place to achieve success.

For me I would have to go with Svay Rieng, I love watching Iago and Gabriel. They are the types of players that get you off your seat and excite the fans, they’re great for the league and think they might just make the difference. Overall though I hope for an exciting season and KOF will be there covering it!

You can check out Kingdom of Football here.

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


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