African looking man with light curly hair, wearing sport uniform, the body covered in sweat after 30 minutes training, Chukwuma Ohuruogu, 23, known as a Nigerian soccer player of Cambodia Soccer Club (Boeung Ket). Wuma, a striker, first get involved in soccer since he was a little boy. He came from a family of soccer player, and his father and brother was a professional soccer player in Nigeria. By living surrounded by soccer, Wuma has never attended at university but high school. By having a strong desire to be a professional soccer player in Europe, Wuma has been working very hard in many difficult situations to gain his professionalism. Now he ends up his career in Cambodian League.
Having a conversation under hot sunlight on top stair of the National Olympic Stadium, Wuma described about his life of being a soccer player. Born with a poor family, Wuma faced many challenging when he was a child. His parents did not send him to a proper school because his family lived under a poverty line. Being known as a soccer lover, one day, he was invited to play soccer for his school annual competition, and the school provided only sports clothes for each players. Surprisingly, he could not even afford a soccer boots, so he had to play with barefoot during the match. “At that time, I was so embarrassed, but I have to control my feeling since I have a dream, I have passion, and I have a will, so I do not care with that shame experience, and I have to challenge with any circumstances to fulfill my desire,” he said.
Taking a depth breath with smiling, Wuma showed his own satisfaction about his previous and current situation. Although he was from a poor family and did not get high education like other people, he still deserves what he is doing right now since he loves soccer profession as same as his life. “Although I have not fulfilled my desire yet, I am still developing myself to reach my destination.” he said.
Having a dream to be soccer player to Europe, Wuma decided to leave his family to enhance his skill outside the country. Before moving to Cambodia, Wuma used to live in Mali and Thailand, where he have practiced his soccer skills. By having recommended from his agent at Nigeria, Wuma has been offered to live in Cambodia to pursue his career. “When I was a child, I always dream to be a professional soccer in Europe, so I have to build up my ability with any difficult situations at different places,” he said, “I made up the quick decision to stay here, and I was not hesitated of living here because Cambodian people are very kind and nice,” he added.
Back to talk about his life in Cambodia, Wuma showed his keen on interest in replying all the questions, and he behaved in pleasant while interviewing. But when asking to his personal question, he was hardly to answer, but he still kept saving his face. “I do not want my speech to be published, and you should not tell anybody about this,” he said. Speaking with an up and voice pitch, Wuma mentioned about his situation in Cambodia. By working as a Cambodian Soccer Club, he earned only 400 US dollars per month, but whenever he joined the match, he got an extra money from the club owner. This amount of money is not enough for his fashionable life, but he could accept it. “Although the salary is quite low, I could still survive for my daily living,” he said.
Being a talented soccer player in Cambodian Soccer Club, Wuma has joined many competitions not only national but also international match. He get impressed by his coach and audiences because he is one of the best and skillful soccer player in the team. “I might born with talented. You know! I am not proud of myself. Whenever I joined the match, I felt very confident and I always hopes to win the championship,” he said.
Although soccer is one of the most favorite career of his life, he still has another dream job in mind. If he was asked to choose another job, he wanted to be a dancer. “I am not a good dancer, but I want to learn dancing because I love it, but I do not mean I give up my soccer profession,” he said.
If talking about the differences between Cambodian and foreign soccer, he would say that there are many things that should be raised. But according to his experience, Cambodian soccer has many things need to be improved. Cambodian soccer are still lacking of some soccer materials which are used during training and hosting the match, lacking of expert soccer players and coaches. “I do not criticize Cambodian Soccer, but I just tell the truth about what I have experienced,” he said.
According to Mr. May Tola, director of the Football Federation of Cambodia, nowadays there are 38 foreign soccer players in 10 teams in Cambodian League. Mostly, from 60%-70% are Nigerians. There are also Cameroonians, Ghanaians, Japanese, Antiguans, Netherland, South Korean, and Vietnam. The reason that we must have foreign players is that as we have known soccer is globalization which means we have to freely open by not discriminated on the other nationalities or racism. As the Cambodian Premier League continues to grow, it seems to become attractive to international players looking to get a fresh start.
In the future, Wuma wants to become a professional soccer player in Europe. Thus, he will builds up his skill in different areas around the world. “My dream is to play in Europe one day, and I believe the God is always by my side, my first season is to be a professional player and win the champion, and the second season I become the second team in the league and after this season, I am going to Europe,” he said.
“For those who have a desire to be soccer player, they have to be patient and struggle with all the obstacles. To me, I have tested with many challenging experiences before I have a presence in here today, so I have to keep my life moving forward from day by day”. “If we do not have passion and desire in mind, we are not able to get successful with our job,” he said. “Soccer is like a life, it requires perseverance, self-denied, hard work, sacrifice,” he said. “My father and my brother are my best role model, and I was inspired to be a professional soccer player,” he added.
By: Sim Yuthy
By: Sim Yuthy