There are many different sports in Cambodia from all over the world, which reflects its status as a developing and increasingly well-connected country. By far, the most popular sport is football. Pitches have sprung up all over Phnom Penh, as well as in other towns and cities, and are constantly in use by teenage boys. Every evening in Phnom Penh pitches are lit up by flood lights, and teenagers play after dinner. Billboards of Manchester United can be seen at major junctions in Phnom Penh, and most youngsters are well acquainted with the names Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard.
Another, and uniquely Cambodian sport, is that of Sey, which is best described as shuttle-cock hackey sack. The brilliantly composed Sey is made of feathers and weighted with a rubber bottom. Players aim to keep the Sey airborne for as long as possible. Played competitively or for fun, Sey players can be seen practising in public places such as Wat Phnom or Wat Botum Park.Their strength and flexibility is really impressive!
Bradal Serey, more commonly known to foreigners as Khmer or Cambodian Boxing, is also popular, especially amongst males. The history goes back hundreds of years (any Khmer will tell you it precedes Thai boxing, a fact they are immensely proud of) and first became a ring sport under the French. The Cambodian Television Network (CTN) hosts live matches, which can be attended. The atmosphere is truly electric! There are also Bradal Serey academies, which can cater for foreign tourists or ex-pats who wish to learn the sport, dotted throughout the country.
Volleyball is also popular, especially in the countryside. In the early evening, as the air starts to cool, teenagers from the village flock to the volleyball court to play with their friends as they while away the evening. The villagers simply string up a net between two trees and play as they await their supper. This Western sport has been adapted from, and influenced by, the South East Asian sport of Sepak Takraw, which can be described as kick volleyball. Players must get the ball over the net using only their legs, head or chest. The displays of athleticism make for great watching!
With the opening of Ice Park in Aeon Mall adding to the ice rink at Kids City, ice skating shows potential to became another popular sport in Cambodia. Hundreds of Cambodians have already experienced the thrill of ice skating, and with the links between Ice Park and the future Cambodian Winter Olympic Teams, ice skating shows promise to be a new and up-coming sport in Cambodia.