Irish celebrate with first ever international rules games

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cairde Khmer, the Kingdom’s first Gaelic football club, are to take on the Cambodian Eagles Aussie rules club in an international rules football match in Phnom Penh on Saturday. Eoin Murphy

On Saturday the first ever international rules football match, a hybrid of Gaelic football and Australian rules football, will take place in Phnom Penh with teams battling it out in men’s and ladies’ football matches.

Cairde Khmer, the country’s first GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) club, was established in October 2017, with members spread across the capital and Siem Reap.

In November 2017 and 2018, the club sent teams to Bangkok to play in the Asian Gaelic Games.

These teams included both a men’s and ladies’ Gaelic football team, as well as a hurling team.

The men’s football team did particularly well, losing the Junior semi-final in 2017 and the final against South Africa in 2018. They were the sole defeats for the men’s team over the weekend in both years.

“Both clubs are excited to play each other this coming St Patrick’s weekend."

“Not only is it a fantastic opportunity to connect with the wider Khmer and expat community, but also to promote Irish culture in Southeast Asia,’ said Cairdre Khmer founder Conor Wall.

“Both clubs will also take the opportunity to encourage new and curious players to come along and try out the sports – no matter if you’re a complete newbie or someone who used to be involved in sport at home, but lost the drive at some point along the way.”

Cairdre, which means “friends” in Irish, will take on the city’s AFL team, Cambodian Eagles Football Club, on Saturday. The club was established in 2008 and encompasses three teams – the Eagles, an expatriate and Cambodian men’s team; the Cobras, the national men’s team; and the Apsaras, an expatriate and Cambodian women’s team.

In 2018 the Cambodian Eagles hosted and toured for international matches against teams in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore.

The national men’s team, the Cobras, were victorious in the inaugural Vietnam AFLX tournament at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University in Ho Chi Minh City. AFLX is a shortened variation of Australian rules football.

The Club also made some headway in its efforts to promote Australian rules amongst children, with growing numbers of young players joining the Auskick clinics organised on Saturday mornings at the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP).

Saturday’s event starts at 3pm at Northbridge International School on Street 2004 in Trapang Chhouk Village in Sen Sok distruict’s Teuk Thla commune and is scheduled to finish at 6pm.

You can follow Cairde Khmer GAA Club on Facebook (@CairdeKhmer).