Fighting for the women

Feb 09, 2022

Don’t be fooled by the diminutive façade of Pov Sokha. Behind her unassuming demeanour is a woman of substance.

Not only is she a multiple world vovinam champion, Sokha is also a firm believer in women’s right.

“Yes we are women, but we can do as well as any men can,” said that 26-year-old exponent.

The Army officer has been the undisputed vovinam star in Cambodia, winning the national championships a record four time since 2017.

“It is my dream to get and inspire more girls to take up martial arts. It does not need to be vovinam, they should pick any other martial arts like taekwondo or karate too,” said Sokha, who started off as a swimmer in her early teens.

She was attracted to the special techniques in vovinam when she was 15-years-old and with the formation of the Cambodia Vovinam Federation, was given the opportunity to excel in the sports. She has not looked back since her venture into the sport, winning multiple international titles since.

She won the world titles at the 2017 World Championships in India and again at the 2019 World Championships in Cambodia.

“As a woman, we still do not feel safe. We need to protect ourself and I believe every woman must take up and equip themselves with some form of martial arts knowledge,” said Sokha.

She was quick to add that the perception of women in martial arts must also change in the country.

“Some girls feel that they should not take up martial arts. They feel it is not womanly. Many parents also discourage their girls from taking up martial arts. They need to change their mindset. Martial arts helps to protect yourself and also builds character,” said Sokha.

Sokha, who made her international debut at the SEA Vovinam championships, said that the sport had helped her make a better living.

“Being successful in competitions has also brought in incentives from the government and the sports authorities. I have even manged to buy my own house,” said Sokha.

But she also pointed out that success does not come overnight and takes hard work.

“For me, Vovinam taught me to be stronger. I failed in my first competition, but reminded myself to work even harder to gain success,” said Sokha.

She stuck down her first international title, winning the gold at the 2016 Asian Beach Games in Danang, Vietnam.

“I began to understand the sport better and changed for the better in practising the art,” said Sokha, who also won the 2018 Asian Vovinam Championships gold in Indonesia.

The immediate target for Sokha is do well at the Hanoi SEA Games in May this year.

“I will be competing in three different categories in Hanoi and hopefully it would be a gold medal outing,” said Sokha.