Updated May. 19, 2014 01:27
For the two Cambodian boys who used to run in bare feet, wearing socks and sneakers for the first time was just amazing. Pak Paktra (18) and Nung Mingcheng (16) came to Korea to participate in the high school mens doubles at the 92nd National Soft-Tennis Championship organized by the Dong-A Ilbo. It is the first time for Cambodian players to enter this competition, Koreas oldest championship for a single sport launched in 1923. They were invited by the Korean Soft-Tennis Association and the Mungyeong City Hall.
They have been trained for only about a year. In the match against the Jecheon High School, they scored only one point in the first game and were defeated 0-4 in the end. After school, they get a three-hour training three times a week. Cambodia has only about 25 registered soft-tennis players. And in the country whose per capita income stands at only about 900 dollars, the training environment for these players is quite poor. Many students give up going to school because they cannot afford the tuition and food expenses costing 10 dollars a month. Learning about the reality in Cambodia, the tennis team of the NH Nonghyup, an agricultural bank company in Korea, has decided to provide contribution every month for the soft-tennis athletes in Cambodia. Ju In-shik, a head coach of the Mungyeong City Hall soft-tennis team, donated soft-tennis equipment for the kids.
In Cambodia, soft-tennis was first introduced in 2011. To expand the base of soft-tennis, the Korean Soft-Tennis Association started to send soft-tennis equipment such as rackets and balls to the country through missionary Kim Geon-jung. Last year, Choi Jong-ryul who worked as a coach in Southeast Asia visited Cambodia and taught the players. Korean TV dramas are very popular in Cambodia. I like 2NE1 in particular, Mingcheng said with a smile. I want to buy a used cellphone in an electronics market in Seoul. Like Korean teenagers, they were also interested in celebrities and electronics," Paktra said.