St. Patrick’s Day is Ireland's national day and a celebration of all things Irish, including a unique sport which several of the Kingdom’s women have wholeheartedly embraced.
As a result of their passion, Cambodia’s Cairde Khmer Gaelic Football women’s team has been invited to represent all of Asia at the World Gaelic Games 2023 in Ireland, as have their male counterparts.
The world games will take part in Derry, Ireland this July.
To raise funds for the team to make it to the European event – a trip which will be many of the players first time outside the country – the club is organising a St. Patrick's Day Festival fundraiser on Saturday March 18.
The all day affair, at Craft on St 244 in Phnom Penh, will feature live performances by five of Phnom Penh’s most popular bands, raffles, games, and even two specially brewed craft beers for the occasion.
“Gaelic Football incorporates the skills of soccer and rugby into a fast paced exhilarating game. The matches are fast paced and it requires an extremely high level of skill to use both hands and feet to move the ball,” explained Ronan Sheehan, chairperson of the Cairde Khmer GAA Club.
“Our women’s team will represent Asia at the games. Ten of our 13 players are Cambodians, whereas nearly all of our opponents are expats. They put on a heroic display at the Asian champs, overrunning many of their predominantly Irish opponents,” he said.
The money required to get the team to the other side of the world to represent the Kingdom is considerable.
“Most of our players come from impoverished backgrounds, so the club must cover all costs. That is why we are looking for sponsors,” added Sheehan.
“To say this will be the trip of a lifetime would be an understatement,” he continued.
Player Peou Sophoan is excited to represent Cambodia at the games, but admitted to being a little apprehensive about her ability to compete with European teams.
“This is a tough sport. You have to react quickly, because you must pass the ball after just three or four steps. Technically, you cannot rugby tackle a player, but you can use your body to block them to try and take the ball, so it is a high contact sport,” she added.
UK ambassador Dominic Williams invited the women’s team to dinner this week, and promised to lend his support to making the Cambodian player’s Irish dream come true.
The players have appealed for fans to show their support and wear green this Saturday. Those interested in donating to the club can do so via gofund.me/86ff2525