From Pitches in Asia – Report from JFA Coaches/Instructors Vol. 74: GYOTOKU Koji, Head Coach of U-19 Cambodia National Team & FFC Academy U-18
16 December 2022
Training environment of the National Academy
Since my dispatch to Cambodia in February 2019, I have been working as head coach of the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) National Academy U-18 as well as the U-18 and U-19 National Teams in Cambodia.
The National Academy is a boarding school, with 25 players in the U-18 category. The players leave for school at 6:40 am and return around 4:15 pm on the weekdays. Training begins right after school and lasts for about 1.5 to 2 hours.
There are three natural grass pitches and one artificial turf pitch at the football centre where the National Academy is located. However, only the artificial turf pitch is equipped with floodlights, which is often broken or does not work because of power shortages. We frequently have to end our training at dusk even though we would like to train a little longer. There is also a gym in the training centre, but we had never trained in the gym because the equipment, which was bought second-hand many years ago, was so worn out and almost unusable. And during the rainy season, heavy rain and thunderstorms make training impossible for days on end. Figuring out how to improve the National Academy’s training environment posed a significant challenge for the academy's player development.
New gym and an artificial turf futsal court with a roof
In June of this year, the gym underwent renovations as part of the efforts to upgrade the academy’s training environment. Although it is not very spacious, the gym is now equipped with new machines and air-conditioning for a more comfortable workout. Twice a week, the players are divided into two groups to conduct strength training after dinner. In terms of physiques, Cambodian players typically have smaller frames and are often overmatched by their opponents at international competitions. In order to develop a strong physical foundation, we would like to gradually increase the frequency and intensity of the workouts.
Furthermore, a Japanese company that has a factory in Cambodia generously donated an artificial turf futsal court with a roof for the football centre. In the past, heavy rain and thunderstorms have prevented us from training, but now we can train without having to worry about the weather. The donation ceremony was held on 3 December, we have already used the court on numerous occasions, and the players are enjoying training on the brand-new artificial turf.
Producing national team players through player development
In 2022, the U-19 Cambodia National Team competed in the AFF Under-19 Boys’ Championship and the AFC U20 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2023™ Qualifiers. The majority of the players chosen were either current or former members of the academy. The role of the academy is to produce players who can represent the U-23 and senior Cambodia National Teams in the future, which I believe will lead to the development of Cambodian football. Unfortunately, the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) will not host any competitions for both U-18 and U-19 in 2023. It is extremely disappointing that the players of these generations will not have the opportunity to play in official international matches, but we are looking forward to developing talented players at the National Football Centre for future international competitions.
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