Sir Bobby's visit "not enough" for Cambodian youth

English football legend Sir Bobby Charlton's visit to Cambodia last month did "not enough to contribute to the development of football in Cambodia," national coach, Scott O'Donell said. While agreeing that actvities such as Charlton conducting a coaching clinic for around 80 footballers all under the age of 13 at the Olympic Stadium in Pnom Penh were positive, O'Donell said the country needed to "improve the basic infrastructure" as "then only we can improve the standard of the game" in Cambodia. "We need to have a good youth development program and school tournaments in place. There are lot of problems the country but football is one way in which way we can bring the whole of Cambodia together," he told Abhishek Roy of IANS.

Charlton toured the South East Asian nation as part of a mission to raise awareness for the country's continuing land mine problem. An estimated 4-6 million mines and other pieces of unexploded ordinance remain buried in Cambodia after more than three decades of armed conflict. "We are going to try to teach young people how to recognise the dangerous mines that are still around," he said on behalf of Spirit of Soccer, a UK/USA charity which helps children in land mine affected areas of the world through football. The former Manchester United and England player has previously toured Bosnia in Europe for the same mission.

Cambodia, ranked 173rd in the FIFA rankings, were thrashed 6-0 by India in the current Nehru Cup series but then forced Kyrgyzstan to scrape through by 4-3. Against Bangladesh also, Cambodia came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw. "The standard of the game in Cambodia is very low as we don't have good leagues. There is lack of professionalism and the intensity of the game in the local league is also very low. At this age I can also go and play in the first division league as the pace of the game is very slow," said O'Donell, an Australian, who was coach of the Geylang United club in Singapore's S-League before taking up his current assignment.

During his nearly two years in the country, O'Donell said the Nehru Cup was the only tournament that his team has played, which is also a bad sign for the development of the game in the country. "This is the first tournament Cambodia is playing in the last two years. We played one international friendly against Singapore and that too after they agreed to fly down to Phnom Penh. If we have to improve our game we have to play more international tournaments. That is the reason why this tournaments is important for us," he said. He added there are only two coahes in the country with the Asian Football Confederation's 'A' license and one of them is himself.