The National Primary School Games – modified from the Primary School Championship, which was competed in only four sports in 2019 – has been expanded to a much bigger event which now includes eight sports for students across the Kingdom to compete in.
Officials from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport say the games do not focus on performances or results but are aimed at developing the physical fitness of children at school.
Ministry deputy secretary-general Bou Chum Serey said at an April 24 press conference: “The competition does not focus too much on performance, that is, the goal is to strengthen the physical development of the students, as well to improve the mental, emotional and physical fitness, their discipline and empathy for themselves and others.
“The purpose of this competition is for athletes at the primary school level to know success and failure, patience, tolerance, non-racism and non-discrimination in teams. These are the main purposes for organising this event, and we won’t focus too much on individual performances,” he explained.
However, he acknowledged that the development of high-performance sport requires the contribution of athletes at the primary school level because experts from each national sports federation will get a chance to see their natural strength and dedication before bringing them to training and providing them with the right direction.
“We do not directly focus on discovering athletes for international competition, but any of the students could be promoted to the grassroots level of any sports federation, because the development of elite athletes depends on the strength of our grassroots programmes. Sport at this level gives us an opportunity to see what kind of sport they may be suited to, and we can select them accordingly,” he added.
The eight sports that will be contested at the games are football, volleyball, basketball, athletics, badminton, table tennis, taekwondo (WT) and IFT Taekwondo in 34 disciplines with 429 medals up for grabs. There are a total of 1,677 athletes, coaches and athletes from the 25 capital and provinces registered. The competition will be held at eight different locations in Phnom Penh from April 29 to May 8.
Mang Kunno, chief operating officer of Milo, a major sponsor of the event, said: “The main purpose of the company sponsoring this event is our vision to contribute to the government by doing whatever we can to strengthen the growth of sports in Cambodia. We want to partner with the government in the long term, not just this year, to promote Cambodian sports so they become well-known in both the country and the region.”