Tour to Phnom Penh, Cambodia

“When is our next Tour?” ...... “Can we play another game?” “Can we play that team again?” “When are we coming back to Phnom Penh to play ISF again?”

“Well (said Nigel) ... we need to leave Phnom Penh first before we can come back!!”

Such was the excitement and enthusiasm for the 5th HKFC Crusaders Tour to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, that they wanted to return before they had left!!

Twelve players from the Club’s community soccer programme for players of lesser ability – which meets every Monday during the season on the Main Pitch from 6pm to 7pm – did the Club proud playing against seven teams from ISF who were far more agile and able than our players and yet, the HKFC Crusaders took the challenges of each game in their stride.

Jennifer, Gary, Alex, Cheech, Josh, Elaine, William, Anson, Toby, Melvin, Henry and Rooney long may your love of the beautiful game continue.

The seven ISF teams (totalling over eighty players) came from varying provinces surrounding Phnom Penh and the camaraderie developed, within more than four hours of the tournament, was amazing to witness.

The format of the Sunday tournament was similar to previous years in that upon arrival at the ISF Sports Ground and changing into their tournament (read battle!!) kit and limbering up – see the images above – there was a more than two hour drill session, sandwiched between a group warm up and more than an hour round robin tournament. How many goals were scored or even the result of the game was immaterial when matched against the high drama on the pitch. Goal celebrations and crunching tackles, hand shakes and dives – we had it all.

If we ever need to be reminded of the spirit of football, don’t watch the Premier League, watch the HKFC Crusaders!!!

Special thanks go to Barbara Leung, Edwina Brown, James Penny and Tim Nichols without who’s assistance and organisational skills, this tournament would not have taken place.

Huge thanks must also go to The Prudential without who’s sponsorship of the HKFC Crusaders the programme and the tour would not take place, SUNPAC for their superb travel arrangement skills and of course to our hosts ISF for making our trip so enjoyable and carefree.

As a separate part of the Tour, I (Nigel) travelled to Phnom Pehn two days in advance of the HKFC Crusaders to carryout a continuing (twice yearly visit) capacity building programme with the ISF Coaches – as part of his commitment to the ISF Charity whose football Board he sits on – and to undertake and compile a monitoring and evaluation (M and E) report on the ISF Coaches and the 10th December tournament on behalf of FIFA.

Asked why the tournament was so important to the HKFC Crusaders, Nigel said “This is the 7th year that the HKFC Crusaders have been associated with the ISF Charity and the 5th visit to Phnom Penh to cement a relationship that can only be witnessed first hand.”

“Whatever is written, only part sums up the experience”.

The HKFC Crusaders will be in exhibition action next soccer at the forthcoming HKFC International 7’s so, if you want spectacle and drama, excitement and goal celebrations that many Premier League players could never replicate, look out for the HKFC Crusaders when they next strut their stuff on the Main Pitch.

Nigel R Merritt - HKFC Crusaders Head Coach