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Cambodia set for Homeless World Cup

Ismail Vorajee / Khmer Times Share:
The Homeless World Cup has been running every year since 2003, when just 18 teams participated. KT / Yeun Punlue

A team of eight football players will leave for the United Kingdom on the 25th of July to represent Cambodia in the Homeless World Cup – an annual tournament that aims to energise homeless people to change their own lives.

The competition has been running every year since 2003, when just 18 teams participated. This year, 64 teams from 48 countries will take part in the biggest ever edition of the event.

Cambodia first took part in 2008 when the tournament was held in Melbourne, Australia and has attended 10 of the 11 tournaments held since thanks to the tireless efforts of the Happy Football Cambodia Australia (HFCA) organization which has coordinated the team’s appearances at the event.

Last October, the Cambodian team missed out of the 2018 tournament in Mexico due to difficulty obtaining visas.

Participating in the tournament has helped close to 60 young Cambodians turn their lives around in the last decade and now at least ten of them are giving back as coaches, working part time with HFCA to teach the next generation of footballers.

Kimhong Thong represented Cambodia at the 2015 Homeless World Cup in Amsterdam, Netherlands and has since gone on to become the HFCA regional manager and head coach of HFCA’s program in Siem Reap. Kimhong was recently appointed to coach the Cambodian team in the upcoming Homeless World Cup in the UK.

“I want to thank HFCA and the Homeless World Cup for giving me the opportunity to play football for my country in Amsterdam. Being part of the HFCA program has changed my life forever. Now to be given the honour of coaching my country at an international football tournament in Europe makes me feel so proud. I am aware that this is a great responsibility but I promise the people of Cambodia that the team will give 100% in every game,” Kimhong said.

“The positive effect that playing in the Homeless World Cup has had on young people’s lives around the world, including here in Cambodia, makes all the effort worthwhile, said Paraic Grogan, who founded the organisation in 2005 and now runs HFCA.

“We are so grateful for the support we receive from our main sponsor Smart Axiata, from the Cambodian Children’s Fund and from the Collingwood Rotarians in Melbourne. Without them we would not be able to do what we are doing again for our 11th year attending the Homeless World Cup,” he added.

“I welcome the fact that the Cambodian team are traveling to the UK to compete in the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff.’ British Ambassador Tina Redshaw.

At yesterday’s press conference, sponsor Smart Axiata came on board for another Homeless World Cup, as Smart Axiata first supported the team at the 2011 Homeless World Cup in Paris, France and have being a sponsor ever since.

Speaking at the event, Jonathan Yap, Head of Regulatory & Corporate Affairs of Smart Axiata said he was proud of the company’s contribution to support the Cambodian team, as well as of the impact of HFCA’s work.

“The Homeless World Cup presents an array of opportunities for the young Cambodians from HFCA – from showcasing their football skills while visiting a country abroad to meeting peers from other countries. Smart strongly believes in the power of sports such as football to develop sustainable communities. I look forward to seeing HFCA engage more young people in a wide range of constructive activities, providing a fun way to keep fit and healthy, and also sparking their imagination through empowerment,” said Jonathan Yap.

The tournament has separate competitions for men’s/mixed teams and women’s teams, with matches consisting of two seven minutes halves. The defending champions of both the men’s/mixed and women’s titles are Mexico.

Each team can bring a squad of eight players, but only a maximum of four players per team can take the field at a time.

The 17th edition of the Homeless World Cup will take place in Cardiff’s iconic Bute Park, right in the heart of the Welsh capital between July 27 – August 3.

More than 500 players representing over 50 countries will travel to Cardiff to attend the week-long festival of football.

Games will be broadcast live on the HFCA Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/happyfootballcambodiaaustralia/

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