Pheary’s snooker success underscores role of South Korea in nurturing Cambodian talent

Cambodia’s Soung Pheary has won the Korean snooker championship for the second year in a row. AFP
Cambodia’s Soung Pheary has won the Korean snooker championship for the second year in a row. AFP

South Korea has been firmly lodged in the collective consciousness of Cambodian sport ever since taekwondo sensation Sorn Seavmey ended the Kingdom’s 70-year Asian Games gold medal drought in Incheon four years ago.

That South Korea’s Choi Yong Sok, who has lived in Phnom Penh long enough to proudly call it as his second home, worked his magic as Seavmey’s coach endeared the east Asian sporting powerhouse even more to the Cambodian sports community.

Then came the unassuming Lee Tae Hoon, little known outside of his country when he took over in 2010 as the national team’s head coach to steer Cambodia to the uncharted territory of the second round of the Russia 2018 World Cup qualification. An orbit Cambodian football had never before reached.

Even as South Korea’s positive influence, enthusiastic involvement and steadfast support spread across the sports spectrum, comes the sensational success story of a Cambodian woman’s glory on the snooker table.

Born in Soung, Tbong Khmum province, Soung Pheary reportedly won the Korean snooker championship for the second year in a row to add to her multiple titles and awards snapped up during her nearly eight-year stay with her supportive Korean husband.

Social media accounts credit Cambodia’s Ambassodor to Korea Long Dimanache, who reportedly met Pheary last week, for publicising this extraordinary untold success story in a sport very few Cambodian women passionately pursue.

According to local media reports, the ambassador expressed his willingness to explore the possibility of working with the Foreign Ministry and the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia to bring in Pheary as a national competitor in the future.

Should Pheary’s skills on the green baize be drawn on one day by Cambodia, South Korea deserves full credit for nurturing that talent.