Monday, November 26, 2007

News snippets

The Volleyball World Cup for disabled athletes began at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on Saturday and a crowd of over 7,000 watched the opening ceremony and a Cambodian win over India in the first international sporting event in more than four decades to be held in Cambodia. I'm going along to watch the Cambodian team, who have a real chance of a medal, take on #2 ranked Germany at 6pm this evening at the stadium. And as I was eating my lunch at the Khmer Kitchen restaurant today, who should walk past, but the whole of the Cambodian national volleyball squad. Where sport and music are two of the country's most popular diversions, Stand Up Cambodia #1 is the the World Cup Anthem, recorded by Cambodian superstar singer Preap Sovath. Link: WOVD website.
This Thursday, golf will be in the spotlight when we will see the inaugural Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open tee off at at the Phokeethra Country Club near Siem Reap. The US$300,000 Asian Tour event will be the first professional golf tournament to take place in Cambodia.
Last week the Cambodian government signed an agreement with two Indonesian companies to establish a national airline, six years after its former national carrier went bankrupt. The new carrier is scheduled to begin operations in six months, with the Cambodian government holding a 51% stake and receiving 30% of the profits. Cambodia has been without a national carrier since Royal Air Cambodge went bankrupt in 2001 and negotiations with private airlines to set up a joint deal managed under government auspices have dragged on since 2002.
On the newswires today, there's the possibility that Phnom Penh and Siem Reap could have its own tramway if the French company, Alstom get their way. Sounds romantic but a co-ordinated transport policy is a long way off from materialising, so at this stage its just wishful thinking. One small item that made me smile today as I drove around town, was the sheer volume of broken sandals lying in every road I passed after three days of mass crowds converging on the city.
Finally... it was a shocking weekend for me personally, as far as the UK footy results went. I never thought I'd ever see Leeds United playing at Cheltenham Town's Whaddon Road ground in a league match, especially as a boy I supported both of the teams with a consuming passion: back then Leeds were winning the First Division Championship and Cheltenham were in the lower reaches of the Southern League. Oh, how times change! Well, Leeds visited Whaddon Road on Sunday and had their noses blooded by the bottom club, 1-0. At the same time my other team, Kidderminster Harriers went down 2-0 at home to Oxford. But the award for the biggest plonker of the weekend goes to Mike Slasher (name changed for identity reasons). He's been a great pal of mine for many years and he celebrated his 50th birthday this weekend. However, he was frog-marched out of the Whaddon Road ground before the Leeds match for taking a leak in a public place. Mike is renowned for this - obviously in Cambodia no one bats an eyelid - but in Cheltenham its rightly frowned upon and he was ejected and banned from future matches. Happy birthday Mike!

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