Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cambodian Children will join Homeless World Cup

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Cambodia plans to send a team of five “vulnerable” child football players to the “Homeless World Cup Competition” scheduled for September 2009. This international competition will take place in Italy, according to Py Sophon, Country Director of the Riverkid Foundation Project, a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) formed in 2007.

The Country Director said there are over 50 vulnerable children training very hard every weekend at Boeng Trabaek High School in Phnom Penh. He said all the contenders are former street children and orphans and they are currently unable to go school.

“We are going to send the five children to the Homeless World Cup 2009, and the main objective of participation is to compete with foreign teams to gain honor and medals back to Cambodia,” he told the Cambodia Weekly February 18.

The Country Director said the children were collected from streets and dumpsites in Phnom Penh and they are now receiving financial support from three NGOs – the Riverkids Foundation Project, the Center for Children’s Happiness and Happy Football Cambodia-Australia (HFCA).

“The Homeless World Cup offers the real opportunity to learn football skills and acquire competition experience that will hopefully lead to a new life as purposeful team players for society and leaders in Cambodia’s future,” he said.

Chao Vibol, General Manager of the Happy Football Cambodia-Australia, said that this marked the second time that Cambodia will send the children to participate in international football competitions abroad.

The General Manager said that last year, with financial support from HFCA sponsors, Cambodia sent five child sports stars to attend the Homeless World Cup 2008 in Melbourn, Australia.

He said that this competition yielded one bronze medal for the brave Cambodian team members. He said in last year’s competition, a total of 56 countries attended the Homeless World Cup.

“I am very proud of our Cambodian children players. I think that although they came from the streets and the dumpsites, they really have a good foundation of football knowledge. They are able to compete with experienced foreign football players and win medals for our country,” he told the Cambodia Weekly.

The General Manager emphasized that to prepare for the international competition, all contenders were training very hard every Saturday and Sunday in Phnom Penh.
He said that training was conducted by HFCA coaches, with strong support from the Cambodian Football Federation (CCF). Training takes place at Boeng Trabek High School.

“I hope that with hard work, patience and previous playing experience abroad, they will be able to win more medals when they join future international football competitions,” he said. “I hope that they will become a solid team and provide a foundation for future football success in Cambodia,” he added.

According to Py Sophon, since the establishment of the Riverkids Foundation Project in 2007, over 300 less well-to-do children have received football training and study in Phnom Penh. He added that all children have received financial support from his organization and have been sent to study at state schools in Phnom Penh.

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