Look no further than Yov Kosal for an inspirational figure in Cambodian Para Sports. The national para table tennis Class 4 champion has not let his disability be a barrier to motivate youngsters.
The 26-year-old Kosal lost the use of both his legs after being knocked down by a motorcycle in 2002.
“I was just six years old then and was trying to cross the road. I did not the see the motorbike. It was unfortunate but I believe I can overcome it,” said Kosal.
And despite not being able to use both his legs, year later, Kosal went on to train kids in his village to play football.
“I saw many of the kids were too free and wasting their time doing nothing. I did not want them to get involved in negative activities and decided to get them to play football,” said Kosal, who won a bronze medal at the 2017 Asian Youth Para Games.
Kosal’s initiative was so well received that even the village elders supported him.
He even managed to get the team participate in age group tournaments.
“We could not progress in the Under-12 category but the Under-16 team did go on to finish third,” said Kosal.
However, Kosal had to give up coaching the teams due to his involvement in the national table tennis team as well as lack of financial support for the football team.
“I really miss coaching the kids. If there is sponsorship available, I would gladly get back to help the kids,” said Kosal.
Kosal started training with the national para table tennis team in 2017 and was crowned the national champion the following year.
He plays both the singles and the men’s doubles, where he partners Ek Nheansamut, a Class 3 player.
“I had always wanted to play sports for the nation and when the opportunity arose, I was all ready,” said Kosal.
He added that with the kingdom hosting the Asean Para Games in 2023, he hoped to send a message of peace to the community.
“It is not only about winning but to show to the rest of the world that Cambodia is a peaceful country,” said Kosal.