Sultan launches Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy
By James Kon

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam consented to officially launch the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy for Asean Youth Football Championship 2007 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National stadium yesterday night, marking the start of the most prestigious football championship to be organised in the country.

Accompanying His Majesty to the biennial event were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at Prime Minister's Office, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Malik and His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Mateen.

Upon arrival, His Majesty and the Royal Family were greeted by Minister of Culture Youth and Sports, Pehin Major General (Rtd) Dato Hj Awang Mohammad, along with President of Brunei Football Association (BAFA), Pehin Dato Paduka (Dr) Hj Awang Hussain, and other members of the organising committee.

To kick start the ceremony, the national anthem was aired followed by a march-past by the eight participating teams, comprising Asean countries, led by the Royal Brunei Police Band.

His Majesty then proceeded to declare open the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy for Asean Youth Football Championship 2007.

This was followed by a colourful display of athletic moves by PDS students accompanied by the theme song for the event "Go for the Score", sung by Hans Anuar, a popular local singer and song composer.

Next, former national team players who took home the Malaysian Cup in 1999, Liew Chuen Fue, Rosli Hj Liman and Nordin Tujoh, carried the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy onto the field.

His Majesty was then introduced to each team manager accompanied by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports and Secretary General of BAFA, Pengiran Hj Metussin bin Pengiran Hj Matassan.

Concluding the ceremony, His Majesty consented to receive a 'pesambah' from the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, in his capacity as the organising chairman of the championship.

After the opening ceremony, His Majesty and the Royal Family watched the opening game between Brunei Darussalam and Cambodia.

A total of eight Youth football teams from Asean countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and host country Brunei are taking part in the championship. Indonesia and Laos are not taking part this year.

Finals of the championship will be held March 12, at the Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium. (4th March 2007)