Just in time for the World Cup: A Gooooooaaaaal for Cambodia!
Countries all over the globe are bursting with Soccer fever at the moment. Each hoping their team has what it takes to win the World Cup. Fans with painted faces, soccer ball shaped hats, team jerseys, and air horns, chant and scream for their home countries with a fervour that is rarely seen during other soccer tournaments. Even if your team isn’t in Russia, you are likely to still be enjoying the festivities.
But are you likely to see such revelry this month in Cambodia?
Despite the country's love of football, Cambodia has never qualified to appear at the FIFA World Cup. Is there a reason why it might matter? When it comes to how soccer and other sports can empower children in developing countries, it just might. Continue reading to find our how Globalteer’s Sports Project has helped Cambodia score a “goal,” when it comes to empowering their youth.
The children of Cambodia face major problems on a daily basis:
Poverty, poor hygiene, insufficient health care, limited access to potable water, child labour, trafficking and exploitation, and child marriage.
These problems are more significant for girls, as their access to education can be limited. As they get older, girl’s school drop-out rates become higher. This is especially true in rural areas, often because they begin seeking jobs to help their families financially.
It is essential that children do not become invisible in the eyes of society. They must be able to express their opinions and assert their rights. Also, have the confidence to stand up for themselves now and in the future, and have access to opportunities to overcome poverty. While education is key to addressing all of these issues (see our Cambodia Community Project), another area that can help significantly is sport. According to the United Nations: “Psychologists have found that participation in sport in elementary and secondary school facilitates life-skills training and serves as a protective factor against traumatic events such as civil conflict, community violence and early forced marriage of underage girls.”
The last few years have seen a significant improvement in the amount of state schools that teach sport in Cambodia. However, it is still not considered an important academic subject. Around 80% of Cambodian students will either opt not to play or are banned from playing by their parents. This is especially common with girls.
While the government has improved sporting and physical education programmes in schools, they tend to focus in Phnom Penh. Students in rural areas still have very little access to sport in any form.
Globalteer’s Sport Mission
Globalteer’s mission to address this problem is by working in the province where we already operate – Siem Reap. Mostly focusing on rural areas where kids do not have access to sports programmes. Our vision is to benefit the Siem Reap community as a whole and to see a generation of young Cambodian people for whom sport/physical education– and all the health, lifestyle and life-skills benefits that go with it – is a natural and integral part of their lives. Using local Cambodia coaches and international volunteers, Globalteer has already made a real difference to many children’s lives in Cambodia.
The four Programme Aspects
Our Sports Programme has four different aspects with one over-arching goal:
Bringing sports to groups of Cambodian children who otherwise would not have them and empowering them socially along the way.
1.Soccer League, Tournaments and Yearly Games
The concept of the league and tournaments is very much mass participation of all genders and abilities. It must not be financially restrictive for the children and great fun. Children from different schools and charity projects enter the league in different age groups. They play small sided games on half field size pitches with small goals. This allows for more games and for players to get more touches of the ball. Over the season, a league table keeps the children excited and enthused about the next games.
The Yearly Globalteer Games is a day of fun and friendly competition. Children from Siem Reap’s schools and NGOs come together to take part in a wide range of sports and games, competing against children from all over the area. In the spirit of good sportsmanship, the games are more about taking part than winning. Complete with an opening ceremony, traditional sporting activities like running, jumping and running will be accompanied by things like wheelbarrow races, three-legged races, and tug-of-war. In the weeks leading up to the event, children will practice and perfect their techniques for these new and fun sports.
2.Goals for Girls
Girls and women are vital members in our communities, and research has shown that when you invest in girls, you invest in the society as a whole. This programme involves about 25 girls, ages 16-19. Bringing the girls together for a series of leadership workshops on the soccer pitch. Over the course of 1 year, these girls will use soccer as a tool to learn and discuss things like role models, leadership skills and the role of women in the community. It is our hope that these skills developed on the soccer field will translate into everyday life.
At the end of the course, the Goals for Girls team will help Globalteer manage and run our annual Globalteer Games. This gives the girls real life experience of the skills they have learned on the field, like using their confidence and voice. The organization and preparation beforehand will be a lot of hard work. Each girl will be at the helm of a particular event on the day of the games. They will be completely in charge, whistle in hand and taking initiative, in charge of running the schedules, recording times and scores, and directing the children participating. Having this ownership will be empowering, showing them that they can command leadership roles with skill and confidence. All in a society where they are usually expected to fade quietly into the background.
3.Sports coaching – Rural Focus
With sport being limited for young people all over Cambodia, it is more limited in rural areas; therefore, we would like to focus the sports programmes out to these remote locations. The government requires schools in these areas to include sport in their curriculum. Unfortunately, they do not have the supplies or know-how, and are genuinely interested in Globalteer’s support. We bring the coaches, materials, and equipment to them, engaging the students in each centre at least once per week. They will be learning mostly the games of soccer and volleyball, in an organized way, combined with empowering social messages.
4.Sports for Social Impact
The football league and sports coaching are more about learning the mechanics, skills, teamwork, and rules of a sport more than anything else. These sessions are also used as a tool to impart important social messages for these children and young adults. The Sports for Social Impact programme will take place in between regular coaching sessions. Specific sporting activities teach important social topics that translate directly from the playing field into everyday life, such as: Children’s Rights, The Environment, Gender Equality, Alcohol/Drug Abuse, and Corruption and Fair Play.
Taking pauses in the training schedules will be welcome respite, and the lessons learned through these activities will be invaluable. They will encourage group discussion, outside-the-box thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, creativity, equality, and self-confidence.
How Can You Help?
It is our belief that running these sports programmes in Siem Reap, we can make a significant difference in the lives of the children there, empowering them to believe in their own potential and giving them a set of invaluable life skills. A comprehensive, sustainable programme will take a great deal of funding to reach full fruition. We continually need to pay for sporting equipment, transportation, coach’s salaries, uniforms, and soccer pitch rentals!
With your support we can work towards real change for the children of Seam Reap! Click on the links below to donate and support us in our work!