A team of under-13 footballers from a deprived community in Cambodia has been able to compete in a national tournament for disadvantaged children thanks to ongoing sponsorship from Isle of Man-based Cains.
The pupils from the charity-funded Aziza School, which serves one of the most deprived communities in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, took part in the Ian Thompson Memorial-ISF U13 Boys/U10 Mixed Tournament last month.
The annual event is hosted by the Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF), an organisation that delivers education, healthcare and sport to disadvantaged Cambodian children. The charity’s development assistant Teyaorm Mas said “The team had a great day and was thrilled to get the opportunity to play on a ‘professional’ grade field, as the tournament was held at one of the only large Astroturf pitches in Phnom Penh, the 3G Pitch.”
Thirty-three teams from poverty-stricken areas across Cambodia gathered for the competition, which also welcomed several deaf players and players with hearing difficulties.
Teyaorm said “Although they did not make it past the round-robin competition, the team had a brilliant day catching up with old friends and practicing their football skills.”
Cains has sponsored a Phnom Penh school team through the ISF’s football programme for six years. The scheme provides coaching, leagues and tournaments to some of the country’s poorest young girls and boys. It also allows for the purchase of equipment and kit, as well as providing playing fields and transport to training and matches throughout the year.
Cains director Mike Edwards, who is based in its London office, explained that they originally heard about the project while they were establishing an office in Singapore. He said “We were keen to support a charity in South East Asia and ISF seemed like a great cause, echoing the community support we were already offering in the Isle of Man.”
Many of children the ISF helps are forced to scavenge on tips to provide for their families, but the charity offers them food parcels as an alternative: this not only improves their diets, but also enables the children to go to school instead of working full time.
Mike saw first-hand the poor living and working conditions of the so-called “dump kids” when he attended one of the tournaments. He said “The ISF is doing fantastic work and the football programme really complements the children’s education: it teaches them about team work and living healthily.”
He added that many children also seek solace in solvent abuse, but that the sports programme can divert away from that by offering a positive outlet.
Teyaorm added “I’d like to say thank you most sincerely to Cains for helping to provide them with the opportunity to play football in an environment of friendly competition, encouragement and respect.”