PHNOM PENH, 16 August 2022 – In light of Cambodia’s 2022 ASEAN Chairmanship, the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport convened two successive workshops on the Preservation of Traditional Sports and Games (TSG) and State of Sports and Recreation Zones Development in ASEAN on from 8-11 August.
ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Sports (SOMS) representatives, experts from relevant national agencies in ASEAN Member States, and representatives of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) attended the workshops.
The programme included showcase sessions of Kun Khmer and L’bokator, an ancient Cambodian martial arts technique, by young athletes and a visit to Morodok Techo National Stadium, one of the venues of the 32nd Southeast Asia Games in 2023.
In his opening remarks, Cambodian Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport, Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, underlined the importance of TSG preservation. “ASEAN Member States need to take concrete actions to protect and promote TSG to build up our spirit as a community, bring peoples together and install a sense of pride in our society’s cultural roots,” he said.
UNESCO representative, Florent To lay, underscored the importance of safeguarding TSG as an intangible cultural heritage in the modern world. With their historical values, TSG represents the expressions of indigenous cultures and ways of life that contribute to the shaping of a common identity.
“We are called upon to respond to the challenge of safeguarding the intangible cultural legacies of our traditional sports and games from extinction and ensure that future generations of our people will continue to play the games of our ancestors and take pride in the rich cultural heritage of our nations”, said Professor Henry C. Daut, Lead TSG Consultant from ERIA, who is currently leading a study on ASEAN TSG.
Sponsored by ERIA, the second workshop focused on the State of Sports and Recreation Zones Development in ASEAN. In his opening remarks, ERIA President, Professor Hidetoshi Nishimura highlighted that the sport sector contributes to the economy in many ways; by supporting employment through various commercial sports activities and by generating income through the contribution of sports in facilitating increased and better life expectancy of the population.
“One of the many ways to maximise impact of sports in economy and society is by leveraging the role of sports and recreation zone in ASEAN community building. Establishing sports zones promotes active health opportunities for people that can be converted into a profitable economic opportunity,” he added.
The second workshop featured a panel discussion on the Role of Sports and Recreation Zones in Promoting a Healthy and Active ASEAN Community. Moderated by the ASEAN Secretariat, this session focused on the development and the future of sports and recreation zones or activities in ASEAN Member States through multi-sectoral perspectives.
Panel speakers include Dr. Htin Lin, Deputy Director General of Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health Myanmar and Jhoshan Jothilingam, advisor of Portas Consulting. The panel exchanged views and insights on ASEAN’s priorities in healthy lifestyles and applying the city approach in promoting healthy and active lifestyle.
Dr. Aladdin Rillo, ERIA Senior Economic Advisor, served as the moderator in the group discussion. He underlined the collective responsibility and partnership opportunities in the development of recreation and sports zones, not only among the government officials, but also all the private sectors and community members.
Both workshops call for systematic and organised actions to strengthen the cooperation in preserving and increasing ASEAN TSG’s visibility amidst digitalisation, promoting the establishment of green open spaces, and utilising existing sports facilities and sports event infrastructure legacies across ASEAN Member States.
In his closing remarks, Bou Chum Serei, Under Secretary of State of the Cambodian Ministry of Education Youth and Sport, emphasised the importance of both initiatives as Cambodia’s 2022 Chairmanship deliverables and better synergy in perceiving sports as enabler of ASEAN Community-building and Sustainable Development Goals.