The Cambodian Equestrian Federation is to launch a nationwide drive to spot talented young riders who can build on the goodwill and competitive interest whipped up by the success of the men’s national endurance team at the recent 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
On its first big mission in the region, the six-member Cambodian squad of Ly Sovanachandara, Lon Sopheaktra, Phay Visal, Moeung Sochea and Sim Narith, along with team leader Hoy Sopharith, returned with a team bronze medal to reward the CEF with a fitting gift to mark its 10th anniversary, formed, as it was, in 2007.
“We can not sit on the glory of this medal. We have to secure our future and build a much stronger endurance team that can aim higher,” said CEF President Mona Tep at a meet the press programme arranged by the federation for interaction with the members of the winning team at the Cambodian Country Club, the home of the City’s equestrian community, on Friday.
“We have lot of challenges ahead of us and the foremost is to keep the momentum of this achievement going. There is a bright future for us in endurance and we would like to encourage more riders to step up. At the same time, we also would like to keep our jumping options open,” said Tep, who has been involved in the administration of the CEF for the past six years.
As a major first step towards grassroots development, CEF Secretary-General Kao Vannarin, who himself is a competent rider, will start imparting basic riding lessons to at least half a dozen kids at his Morodok Seo Khmer Moribo Club in Kampong Chhnang.
This initiative, combined with the efforts by CEF in other regional centres like Siem Reap, will keep the training programme in high gear, according to Tep.
Meanwhile, the country’s endurance coach Guillaume Larivain, who guided the team in Kuala Lumpur, is likely to move on from Cambodia soon and the CEF is looking for a suitable replacement.
While the CEF will also be pursuing its long-term goal of forming a women’s endurance team, the focus at present will be on giving the emerging riders a good shot at jumping.
Cambodia’s two teenage candidates who made it to the Mondial competition in France earlier this year, Alicia Khim and Nora Manns, will continue their training and competitive interests.
Khim will be heading to an event in Taipei later this year, while Nora, who is pursuing her studies in the US state of New Mexico will take part in her own regional and national events.
The CEF is planning to bring the two riders together as a team as soon as possible.
Though the emphasis on the men’s team is on endurance, versatile riders like Lon Sopheaktra will also pitch into jumping. He is likely to fine-tune his skills in neighbouring Thailand, where the national equestrian federation has been extending a helpful hand to Cambodia over a period of time.