WHEN Cambodia secured a 2-1 win over Timor-Leste on Thursday night, the home support will have been delighted to watch their team secure a hard-earned three points. But there was also at least one Scotsman looking on beaming with pride.

For Frazer MacRobert, a 32-year-old from Glasgow, the match represented a huge personal milestone. Not because of anything the players did on the park, though. He could reflect on a job well done because of the shirts on their backs.

The Cambodian national team kits may well be laden with national imagery but the man who designed them hails from Scotland. After two years of painstaking work that were interrupted by the Covid pandemic, all those hours staring at thousands of blue tints paid off as MacRobert added a fairly impressive achievement to a CV that also includes SPFL clubs.

It’s been a circuitous route for MacRobert, who has a full-time job in a behaviour change innovation lab in Phnom Penh.  Working until the wee hours of the morning, he started mocking up designs back home as something to do in his spare time, eventually launching his own company: Clan Utd.

“I’ve got this obsessive personality where when I’m doing a hobby, I go all in,” he explains. “I used to work in the Garage nightclub during uni and I went from PR to marketing to running my own brand. When I started playing football I loved kit fashion and kit culture so I started collecting these odd, eccentric kits so I could turn up for fives every week dressed in something ridiculous.

“I started having a go at designing concept kits because six or seven years ago it was trending at that point, there was this big movement where everyone was designing kits as a hobby.

“I would design a Borussia Dortmund-style one for the SNP Yes campaign or an Arsenal-style one for Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign – just topical things to get a laugh.

“I didn’t really think anything of it but I had a friend from Glasgow that asked me to brand up his company out in Cambodia. I did that, he loved the work and I decided to come out to Cambodia because I thought it would be something cool.”

It would be the perfect place for MacRobert to explore his hobby and improve his craft.

He continued: “There are a lot of garment factories in Asia – most of the kits you’ve ever bought will say ‘Made in Cambodia’, or India, or Bangladesh, or China – so it is really easy to procure tops here.

“I started making custom ones for teams using pre-bought factory templates but when I started using my design files, I was able to source factories that could print them.”

After dipping his toes into kit and badge designs for Cambodian Premier League sides, opportunities closer to home arose.

“I started as a hobbyist designing different crests and different kits and then I approached Berwick Rangers,” MacRobert recalled. “I redesigned their badge and it had a lot of history behind it and meaning.

HeraldScotland:

“I told them ‘Your badge is great but it’s been the same for a long time, let’s try and evolve it’. I gave them my reasoning and my thoughts and they were in the process of doing that anyway, so they were totally on board.

“They are part of this football network so from there I worked with Raith Rovers. I did their season tickets designs and some digital assets for their website and social media, things like that. I’m still doing a little bit of work with Scottish clubs here and there. It’s been an interesting journey.”

A few chance encounters and conversations with the right people later and MacRobert found himself tasked with designing a range of kits for the Cambodian national team on behalf of Varaman. There was a requirement from the outset that the strips had to be relevant to the nation’s history and meaningful symbols had to be incorporated into the design.

It was a challenge that thrilled MacRobert but he admits there remained a nagging fear of a backlash to his ideas.

“In 2018 – the last time they brought out kits – the idea was to make them look cool and exciting,” he explained. “That’s’ the way most teams do it; make them more like a fashion statement rather than anything meaningful.

“The owner of Varaman said he wanted something more meaningful to celebrate loads of different aspects. He was adamant the home kit was going to be a digital camouflage design, which is fairly unusual. Broadly speaking, you don’t see that much in football.

HeraldScotland: The Cambodian team wear MacRobert's designs (PHOTO: Pu Vin)The Cambodian team wear MacRobert's designs (PHOTO: Pu Vin)

“There was a rationale for it – camouflage is associated with the army, defending the nation. He said the football team were also doing that. They’re out their fighting on the field and it was about solidarity, which I thought was a nice idea.

“You want to design something meaningful and purposeful – almost to avoid the backlash. When Leeds changed their crest everyone went nuts and was saying ‘What’s this? This is horrible’.

“I ended up using Cambodian imagery to create digital camouflage. Things like the shape of the country, I would pixelate it up and then move it around the canvas so that you couldn’t really tell unless someone told you.

“I probably had a thousand iterations of this design – more blue, less blue, things like that – but we eventually got to a point where we were really happy with it.”

MacRobert needn’t have worried, though, as his designs were very well received.

“The Cambodian team did a Facebook Live stream where they sat and talked to the camera for 10 minutes about what we were trying to do and what it means. They brought out each kit one by one and spoke through each aspect of it.

“I’ve never seen such a positive reaction to a football kit because fashion is subjective. But Cambodian people are very proud and people were like ‘Wow, this kit has so many stories behind it’. Conscious decisions were made in the design process and the reaction was really encouraging to see.”

The future is bright for MacRobert. A return to Scotland later this year beckons but in the meantime, he will be kept busy by his work for local Cambodian teams in a league that is starting to flourish under professionalism.

“It’s all open at the moment,” he added. “I’m meeting a Cambodian club and they are open to the conversation of using my kit designs or designing a new logo.

“The professional football community is young but passionate and there is a lot of money starting to pour into it now.

“The Premier League only launched this year and before it wasn’t a FIFA-recognised league. A lot of clubs are still in their infancy and haven’t thought about more modern designs so I’ll hopefully be doing a bit of that before moving back to Scotland later this year.”

Frazer's work can be found at www.clanutd.com and full explanations of the design process for the Cambodian national team kits are available here.