In the last three decades sport has become an ever increasingly important part of Cambodian life. World sports such as football, badminton and volleyball are incredibly popular here in Cambodia. If you look around the streets of Cambodia where you will see lots of football shirts being worn, particularly the English Premier League. Badminton and volleyball courts are everywhere in Cambodia and its common to see groups, of men in particular, playing in the cooler evenings. Cambodia’s love of popular sports has been aided by widespread media coverage on both TV and the internet. In addition to the common world sports the legacy left by the French can also been seen in Cambodian sport with petanque ( “boules” in French) also being popular and sport at which Cambodia has excelled at on the national stage.
In addition to Cambodians interest in popular international sports there are some sports unique to Cambodia, such as bokator and pradal serey. These are both traditional Cambodian or Khmer martial arts and are steeped in history. Bokator is a military based martial art and was designed to be used in the battlefield while pradal serey is traditional Khmer kickboxing. Pradal serey reached the headlines in 1995 when Cambodia proposed at the ASEAN meeting that community combine their similar “kickboxing” style martial arts in order to compete on level ground at the South East Asian Games in 2005. Unfortunately Cambodia was unsuccessful in its attempt to convince Thailand in particular, who have popularized their version of “kickboxing” Mua Thai, on the world stage.