Tiger Street Football kicks off in Cambodia

On fun-filled day of football and festivities, Anachak Baitong emerged as champions of Cambodia

More than 2000 enthusiastic football fans gathered in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the first leg of the Tiger Street Football 2013.

On the first day, the crowd was entertained by a tournament between local teams, but also by dancers, street football performers and by the presence of 2006 World Champion Fabio Cannavaro.

The tournament was won by Anachak Baitong, who defeated Green Youth 11-2 in a one-sided final.

Anachak Baitong's player Mel Phanseyha talked with Goal.com after the tournament on the significance of the tournament and on the status of football in Cambodia.

"Both teams in the final belonged to the same club," Phanseyha informed us.

"It is a club put together by the Ministry of Environment in 2012, and thus we are called 'Green Club.'

"All players are either government officers or students, we practice twice a week and play both five and 11-a-side.

"Our goal is to create awareness on the needs of the environment throughout football."

As we asked about the state of football in Cambodia, Phanseyha explained to us that football is becoming popular only recently.

"Of course we Cambodians love football, but coming out of the war in 1997 there were many other priorities.

"Now finally we can begin to focus on sports as well."

The mission of his team is quite clear: "With Green Club we want to involve as many youngsters as possible in healthy sport activities, we want to be an alternative to negatives such as drugs and gangs.

"This is very important, considering how teens are the majority of the population in Cambodia today."

Phanseyha is very proud of his team's achievement and looking forward to playing in the second day of the tournament, that will see teams from Singapore, China, Germany and the Netherlands.

"It is a honour to play with teams from more developed countries.

"It is a big chance for us and we really want to make the best of it!"

Tiger Street Football in Cambodia closes on March 16, before moving to its second leg to be held in Australia in May.