Casey Barnett, managing director of CamEd Institute, places a high value on the experience gained from playing sports. All of the obstacles, pressures, pain, and endurance that come with competing are considered important lessons for students who go on to work or start a business after they graduate.

As a professor who has been very successful in training students at CamEd, Barnett claimed that most students who play sports are good learners who have a strong drive and are able to persevere in overcoming obstacles on their journeys to success.

Barnett, who holds a Masters Degree in Accounting from the US, told The Post: “CamEd is an institution that teaches business, accounting and finance. We know that sports provide a lot of benefits for our students. They learn to work as a team and work hard to achieve success under pressure. It also teaches them to accept winning or losing, and this is an important lesson for all of us.”

However, he acknowledged that in order for students to benefit from sports, they need to have a clear sports programme and curriculum. Athletes need to be able to carefully schedule time for sports in order to not affect their studies. Education should always be the first priority, with sports a close second.

“I recognise the benefits of playing sports. It increases our success when we go into business, because participating in sporting competitions helps us learn to be successful in setting goals. Here at CamEd Institute, we encourage all students to play sports. We do not force them, however, because we are aware that some students are not interested,” he said.

Barnett has always been very focused on creating sports events for CamEd students to compete in, and the school has become an outstanding model institution in the Annual National Higher Education and Technical High School Student Sports Competition organised by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. At the 2022 Games, which ended on June 29, CamEd athletes took second place in the medal table among the 38 educational institutions that participated in the event, with nine gold, nine silver and 16 bronze medals.

“A lot of research shows that people who play sports and train regularly are better at learning than those who are less active. Sport provides benefits to the brain, to health and to the senses. When we feel good, our health is good and our blood circulation works well to provide oxygen to the brain which means we will learn well,” he said.

“Playing sports also helps us to avoid bad habits. Sometimes students who have too much free time use it in ways can actually be harmful to them, but if they use the time to play sport and exercise, it will be beneficial. Sport helps [equip] students with skills that will help them later in life, because training and monitoring your own health becomes a habit, which is of great benefit as you grow older,” he added.

“Many of our former student-athletes have gone on to successful careers. They are often promoted quickly because they are usually hard-working, goal-oriented, self-evaluative and know how to correct their own weaknesses. Whether you win or lose, competing in sport cultivates a culture of evaluating themselves, knowing their own weaknesses and leading from the point of change. When they go to work, they face similar situations and are equipped with the tools to find solutions. Some students who are faced with obstacles find themselves in despair, but an experienced athlete will continue to strive for success,” Barnett concluded.

Badminton player Cheu Judy, who is studying at CamEd Institute, echoed Barnett’s statement, saying: “Of course, playing sports helps with studying. When we are feeling under pressure or stressed, we can reduce our stress levels through sport. I agree 100 per cent that most athletes learn well ¬– being physically fit means we are less prone to illness and have more time to focus on our studies.”

Mach Sokmean, who just passed the physical education and sports teacher exam and is studying at the National Institute of Physical Education and Sports, acknowledged the benefits of playing sports.

“Playing sports is very important because it keeps us physically fit, healthy and free from drugs. I played sports before I became a physical education and sports teacher. Healthy competition gives us many of the skills we need to pass difficult exams. I encourage the younger generation to participate in sport to promote public health in Cambodia. This will mean the Kingdom will achieve its future goals,” he said.