Cambodia’s carom billiards star blazing world trail

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Srong Pheavy, from Suong town in Tboung Khmum province, started playing carom billiards after moving to South Korea and has gone on to win 35 medals worldwide. Sruong Pheavy via facebook

Beyond Cambodian sport fanatics Srong Pheavy is little known in the Kingdom, but she has made a name for herself in South Korea, where she has won no less than 35 medals in carom billiards.

The sport is played with a cue and three balls on a pocketless table, points being scored by a player causing the cue ball to “carom” from one object ball to another.

Pheavy arrived in South Korea in 2011 after marrying the local owner of a small publishing company in Geongju.

Born in Kampong Cham’s Suong district, which is now a town in Tboung Khmum province, Pheavy learned nothing about the sport in her childhood and only took it up a year after moving to South Korea.

“My husband said that if I played this sport, I would become popular and could help other people,” Pheavy said.

“I paid about $300 every month for coaching and I practised for three years. Then tried to improve my game by myself by competing in several clubs.

“Later on I started entering competitions and I was really proud to be the first Cambodian woman to play the sport,” Pheavy added during an interview with The Post in Seoul on Thursday, where she was attending the three-day “Asean-South Korea Train” tour.

In 2015, she travelled to the US for the first time to represent Cambodia in a tournament in New York.

Most recently, she has just returned from Spain where she won the bronze medal in the Ladies Three-cushion Carom Billiards World Championships in Valencia.

“When I walked out with the Cambodian flag before the game, only a few people knew me. But they know more about me and Cambodia now,” Pheavy said.

Her success is the result of much effort and no shortage of courage. Pheavy’s first brave act was to fly to South Korea without speaking the language, and it was her adventurous spirit that led to her marrying a Korean man.

“I believe in my struggle to tackle all obstacles, where some people would choose a simple life and give up when they encounter problems. But I chose to overcome them,” she said.

Pheavy’s aim is for Cambodians to grow to love the sport as the Korean people do.

“I see myself in the middle between Korea and Cambodia. I think I’m a role model for Cambodian women who marry foreigners. I want to be respected and valuable to both countries,” she said.

Besides carom, Pheavy involves herself with charity and social work. She has brought donations from South Korea to help poor people and children in the Kingdom, including medicine and 1,000 pairs of shoes donated by banks and corporations in the Republic.

“What we are proud of is that she is a Cambodian woman who married a Korean guy but maintains her identity as Cambodian – not taking on a Korean one.

“When she wins a championship, she raises the Cambodian flag, not Korea’s,” said Cambodian ambassador to South Korea Long Dimanche.

Dimanche said the embassy had provided Pheavy great help and support in South Korea and made it possible to establish a carom billiards federation in Cambodia, which has enabled her to compete in international events.

“We will continue to support her in every way possible,” he said.