Smart Axiata, Cambodia’s leading mobile telecommunications operator, hosted its popular Smart Community Cup to continue its longstanding commitment to football development in the kingdom. The competition and development clinics were held over the weekend with over 600 Cambodian youth benefiting.
Consisting of elements of youth development, gender equality, women empowerment and healthy lifestyle, the Smart Community Cup was run in collaboration with ASA Foundation, the Professional Football Scouts Association (PFSA) and five NGO partners.
Sixteen teams of under-14 and under-18 male and female players took part in the two-day tournament held at the RSN Stadium, with players selected from Smart’s NGO partners – World Vision Cambodia, Pour un Sourire d’Enfant, Cambodian Children’s Fund, Indochina Starfish Foundation and Happy Football Cambodia Australia.
“The Smart Community Cup is a celebration of all the work that we have been doing with our NGO partners in the area of Community Sports, said Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt.
“We aim to engage young people in a wide range of constructive activities and give them fun ways to not only keep fit and healthy, but also spark their imagination as well as craft their football skills,” he added
“Smart is delighted that this program has provided many underprivileged children from our NGO partners with opportunities to undergo football development clinics and workshops by PFSA, which includes a Manchester United Academy Coach. We aim to deliver in future even more impactful community sports programs with long-term growth to the communities we operate in,” Thomas added.
This initiative was organised by Smart in partnership with ASA Foundation. ASA, which has delivered sports-based education programs to over 2 million people globally, aims to expand the popularity of football among girls and boys in Cambodia through grassroot sports development clinics.
“ASA has run sports for development programs in different countries since 2001. The Smart Community Cup has certainly provided a positive learning experience to young Cambodians. We hope that the program will build on its success and promote life-skills development as well as gender equality more widely in future,” said Lee Hawkins, Founder and Technical Advisor of ASA Foundation.
Besides football matches between the NGO teams, around 200 high school students and over 200 football players also participated in the Football Development and Scouting Clinics in the afternoon.
“Football is a powerful pedagogical tool to create awareness while providing lasting benefits in many areas such as education, health and personal development, said Dean Whitehouse, Manchester United FC Academy Coach.
“I certainly enjoyed my time here in Cambodia, working with highly driven youth and many promising coaches over the weekend,” he added.
Eight promising young players from PSE, ISF and World Vision were selected by the PFSA coaches to attend football trials at six-time C-League champions Phnom Penh Crown in the coming weeks.