Cambodia's women’s hockey team made history and received a timely confidence boost ahead of the 2023 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) with a 3-0 victory over Singapore at the 2022 Women’s Indoor Hockey Asia Cup, which concluded on August 15.
The historic win at the Indoor Stadium Huamark in the Thai capital Bangkok was the Cambodian women’s hockey team first since the federation was re-established 12 years ago.
Kaing Sothea, secretary-general of the Cambodian Hockey Federation (CHF), said the victory raised the profile of the sport in the Kingdom.
Sothea hailed the support of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.
“Since the reactivation of the CHF 12 years ago, we had recorded only draws and losses, never having won a game at an international event. So beating Singapore 3-0 is a historic victory and raises the profile of Cambodian hockey.
“This achievement is due to the encouragement of CAMSOC and the NOCC, and especially the training camp organised by the education ministry.
“When we trained together with such intensity, it helped develop the technical level of our players, and this is a good signal for stepping forward at other competitions,” Sothea told The Post.
The CHF was originally established in 2003 under the auspices of the education ministry when the sport was first introduced to Cambodia, becoming a member of the International Hockey Federation and Asian Hockey Federation the same year.
However, the federation did not see much activity and halted operations in 2006. But at the end of 2010, it was re-established with NOCC secretary-general Vath Chamroeun as chairman and supported by 11 other executive committees.
Since the restructuring in 2010, the CHF organised friendly matches and sent its national teams to train abroad and compete in international events.
The teams competed in the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia, the 2013 edition in Myanmar and the 2019 games in the Philippines.
Hockey was not included at the 2015, 2017 and 2021 SEA Games (held in 2022) in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, respectively.
The Cambodian women’s hockey team had previously experienced some demoralising defeats in international matches, especially at the previous three SEA Games.
In the 2019 Games, they drew 3-3 with Singapore, while losing 6-1 to Thailand, 4-3 to the Philippines and 10-0 to gold medallists Malaysia to finish fifth in the table.
The 3-0 victory over Singapore in the group stage of the 2022 Women’s Indoor Hockey Asia Cup on August 9 came as a measure of revenge after 18-0 and 16-0 losses in 2013, and a 15-0 defeat in 2016.
With hockey one of the 39 sports included in Cambodia 2023 by the SEA Games Federation Council, the Kingdom’s hockey federation is focusing on winning medals, especially gold.
Sothea said that as the host, Cambodia must be able to compete for medals, with the aim of winning gold in the two disciplines of field hockey and indoor hockey.
“The federation has set plans to send the national teams to train abroad, such as in Thailand, and especially in Pakistan and India, which are strong countries for hockey.
“We will also send our technical staff abroad for training because our hockey still has a lot of gaps in human resources.
“We must overcome any obstacles with commitment, including setting clear plans and goals, and with the direction of CAMSOC, the NOCC and the Ministry of Education, and the leadership of the Cambodian Hockey Federation,” Sothea said.