Local NGO Indochina Starfish Foundation has given a once-in-lifetime opportunity to four of its aspiring young footballers to take part in the FIFA Foundation Festival 2018 which is an official event as part of the ongoing Russia 2018 World Cup.
The festival is due to end on Tuesday. It brought together 48 delegations of two boys and two girls in the age bracket of 15 to 18, from community-based organisations round the globe, like the ISF, that use football as a medium to drive positive change.
All four Cambodian players picked for the experience are students of ISF, which now offers education and football programs to nearly 700 underprivileged children living in Phnom Penh after humble beginnings of 18 back in 2006.
Female players Sreytouch (17) and Sreyneath (15), along with Ravy (17) and Rasin (16) are under the watch of ISF coach and mentor Sameth Keb, who himself grew up under the foundation’s football program and was offered training and then a full-time job as a coach in 2012.
The group will be involved in a variety of sporting, cultural and educational activities during the festival. For most of them, it is their first experience flying out of the country and a dream opportunity to enjoy a World Cup environment and interact with their peers from around the world, many of who will speak different languages.
Along with cultural exchanges and social meetings, the four will also get a chance to match their football skills with other sets of other teenagers in a mini tournament.
“I am honoured to see ISF’s work in community-based football and education being recognised at such a prestigious and international level,” said ISF country manager Vicheka Chourp, while seeing the delegation off to Moscow at Phnom Penh International Airport.
“I’m thrilled we’ve been selected to participate in an official FIFA World Cup event. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most youngsters, especially those from impoverished backgrounds with limited access to sport and play. It shows the powerful and positive impact of sport,’’ she said.