Anyone who knows me or has followed any of my career in football will know that I am passionate about developing young players having spent my whole career in doing so. What many will not know is that, unlike most, Cambodia football developement is more important to me than my own club and I believe the game will only catch up with the rest of the continent if more people this way.
Youth football in Siem Reap today…..
There are 4 professional clubs all with academies, SR United have a youth team with plans to take them into professional structure in 2026. There’s a church league hosting many teams and of course the government schools competitions hosted every year.
There are also expat run after school football clubs like stormers and not forgetting not for profits like Forza Developement Program, Stepping Stones and Happy Football Australia which is connected with Cambodia Child Fund.
Funding, facilities & contact time…
What Siem Reap is not short of is options to play football. However if we’re to improve youth development is going to require a collaborative effort because what we’re short of is funding, quality facilities and contact time with players.
Funding- professional clubs are fighting for every $ and most of that is going into their first teams to attain club license, attract better players and move forward as a football club. Very little funding from clubs goes into youth teams.
Facilities- There are none! Small run down fields usually over booked and over priced.
Contact time- Because of no facilities and lack of available time it means most youth teams can train 1 or 2 times a week which isn’t enough.
What I would do… .
Unite the four pro clubs and have one development center work an agreed curriculum to follow. On a rotational basis clubs send their coaches to coach sessions. Aged 17 the clubs can then choose from the center which players they want to take onto professional contracts. Clubs pay the development center a fee for the players they take therefore making it self-sufficient and sustainable.
This requires one facility, gives more contact time and less resources are used for each club.
What Cambodia doesn’t have, like England does fire example, is hot headed rivalries between clubs. Most fans in Siem Reap support whichever con club is playing at Hanuman when they decide to go watch. With that on mind Siem Reap should set the example and develop youth players as a province. Instead of 4 pro clubs, 5 social clubs, a church league and whatever else all doing it to an okay level, we could have 1 center, developing players in the best possible way giving us all something to be proud of
This article is adapted from BPVE SPORT Cambodia, reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review.
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