Growing up in America, sports have always been a large part of my life – from little league to high school and through my time as a college student. So a few days ago, I started searching on the Internet to learn which sports were popular here. Driving around Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, I’ve seen runners, swimmers, and tennis players heading for their daily workouts. I’ve noticed games of hackie-sack and makeshift soccer matches while strolling along the riverfront. But what intrigued me the most was what I stumbled onto while roaming the Internet: the Wikipedia page of the Cambodian National Baseball Team.
I love baseball. As a Bostonian, I’ve been a Red Sox fan for as long as I can remember. I have fond memories of watching games with my daughter and throwing the ball around with my sons. Baseball is the most fundamentally American sport there is, and I was so excited when I found this team. It’s a sport of such grace; each player’s moves flow with purpose. For many Americans, baseball is more than just a game. Imagine walking up to the plate, swinging at the ball, getting as far as you can, and then returning home with a success under your belt. That is what baseball means to me: the potential to achieve whatever lofty aspiration you take a swing at.
I am encouraged to see baseball making inroads in Cambodia not only because it is a favorite sport of mine, but also because it represents an aspiration toward something great and working hard to achieve it. And traveling throughout Cambodia, taking particular notice of the nation’s youth, I can already see baseball’s lessons and values taking shape.
Prior to my arrival, several of my colleagues traveled to Kampong Thom to play a friendly baseball game with some Cambodian youngsters. I can’t wait to take a trip there myself to catch a game, and I can tell you right now that I’ll be the loudest fan in the crowd! Have you played or watched baseball before? If not, I encourage you all to make it to the next CNBT game—maybe you’ll see (or hear…) me there!