The Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) said it has been preparing to host the 32nd SEA Games for more than 10 years, with the goal of winning medals at the biennial multi-sports event.

FFC president Sao Sokha – currently deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and commander of the National Military Police – said the federation has since 2010 built and developed human resources and infrastructure, and has organised international competitions under the slogan “All for Cambodia”.

Sokha was addressing the 17th FFC general assembly, held in Phnom Penh on March 11 and attended by representatives from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, National Olympic Committee Cambodia (NOCC), Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Southeast Asian Football Confederation (SEAFC).

He recalled that while Cambodia strived for development post-civil war, other countries were already developing fast. He encouraged the Cambodia Team to train hard and not pause in their efforts.

“They have more resources than Cambodia and had secured peace before Cambodia,” he said.

“This is a competition. They are running. We are also running, though they started running before we did. We must not be afraid of playing the game even if we might lose, because in sports there’s no room for fear. When the match ends after 90 minutes, we will know who wins or loses,” he said.

Sokha said everyone is very committed to achieving the goals of the SEA Games, noting that coaches, officials and players are all focused on getting past the group stage to the semi-finals, at which point anything could happen.

“The federation has set a goal that is not just to lose less, but to win the medal. Whether it happens or not depends on the actual game,” he said. “At the moment, the game has not yet started so we cannot say how strong we are. We have prepared everything and there is no shortage of football players.”

The football competition will start from April 29, before the May 5 official opening ceremony of the SEA Games hosted by Cambodia for the time in history.

Sokha also noted 11 points to promote the development of football before and after the 2023 SEA Games, stating that the goal for the programme in 2023 and beyond is to expand and strengthen the 11 areas: Administration and management; infrastructure development; organisation of national and international competitions; development of all capital/provincial associations; development of clubs; development of the national teams; development of the training programme; coaching resource development; arbitration development; development of indoor football; and development of marketing, communication and fan outreach.

“For this main reason and goal, with the investment of resources and wisdom from all walks of life … the FFC must be committed to working hard to win this event and plan for the further development of football from 2023 onward with a priority on the infrastructure, technical resources, and management of the 25 capital/provincial football clubs and associations,” Sokha said.