Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), highlighted the importance of volunteers to Cambodia’s success in hosting the 2023 SEA Games.

Quoting Minister of Tourism and CAMSOC permanent vice-president Thong Khon, Chamroeun said that for the upcoming SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games, Cambodia will need somewhere from 5,000 to 10,000 volunteers to participate in the events.

“The more volunteers they have, the better Cambodia will do as host,” he told a September 20 Standing Committee meeting held at the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) headquarters in Phnom Penh.

At the same time, Sok Sabayna, chairman of CAMSOC’s Volunteer Commission, said his team has so far organised and registered around 500 trainers for the volunteers, which may be enough to manage the 5,000 to 10,000 volunteers hoped for.

Chamroeun said volunteers are the managers of the practical work and the vital systems of all the games and thus play a significant role.

“They can cheer, celebrate and encourage our athletes at the competitions while they work. We are prepared to give them some special honours and gifts so that they can always remember with pride what they have done for their country.”

According to the secretary-general, Khon encouraged all prospective volunteers to learn basic first aid methods and told all of the specialised committees that use volunteers to provide clear figures on the number they will need for review and evaluation to avoid having too many assigned to one task or area, which could cause shortages in other areas that need them.

“[Khon] has given a lot of guidance on this work, urging volunteers to learn about first aid or emergencies. All volunteers should have these skills in case they are called upon to save the life of someone in the crowd as these sort of problems do end up occurring at very large events regularly.

“For the SEA Games, there will be tens of millions of people gathered together in one place where normally they would be spread throughout the region and world, so we have to have a spirit of helping each other and organising the volunteer work force to be listed on every commission for the entire SEA Games,” he said.

At the meeting to review the work progress report of the volunteer commission on September 20, progress was made on organising the management structure, leadership and training of volunteers.

Chamroeun credited Sabayna as the Volunteer Commission chairman because he used to lead the volunteers in Angkor Sangkran and used to work on organising youths for events with the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia (UYFC).

“[Sabayna] is a role model who used to lead volunteer groups, so we hope that we will have enough volunteers with the right qualities to serve at our event. National honour and the honour of the host country is riding on the efforts of all of the volunteers. They will give the first smile to welcome all of the guests upon arrival in Cambodia and they will also be there with a smile and to wave goodbye when our guests depart,” Chamroeun said.

CAMSOC will hold a parade at the closing ceremonies of the SEA Games for the public to attend as well as all of the other participants to congratulate and thank the volunteers for their time and dedication and hard work making the SEA Games a success.

“Volunteers will receive a message of thanks and appreciation from the national leadership, which is a great honour, so I call on the people of Cambodia – both those inside and outside the country who are able to return for this historic event – to participate by volunteering at the SEA Games.

“Please contact CAMSOC or the volunteer commission to complete your registrations and welcome aboard,” he said.