The Happy Football Cambodia Australia (HFCA) said it respects the decision of the organisers of the Homeless World Cup to cancel this year’s edition of the annual tournament.
The Homeless World Cup 2020 was scheduled to be held at Tampere, Finland, from June 28 to July 5. But because of the ongoing health crisis, tournament organisers decided to cancel it.
Mel Young, co-founder of the Homeless World Cup Foundation (HWCF), said the coronavirus outbreak made it impossible for them to hold the event this year. “We tried our very best to hold this year’s Homeless World Cup but sadly it became impossible due to the practicalities surrounding the global pandemic,” he said.
Echoing Young’s words, Perttu Pesä, president of the Local Organising Committee in Tampere, Finland, said health comes first. “We have to be strong and fight against COVID-19 together. Health is our number-one priority and we must carry out our responsibilities,” he said.
In a press release, Paraic Grogan, founder of the HFCA, said they understand and respect the decision of the host city and the Homeless World Cup to cancel the event. Established in 2005, the HFCA in a non-profit organisation that works with the underprivileged youth of Cambodia through football.
“Our players were very upset at this outcome as they trained so hard to represent Cambodia on the international stage and prepare for this trip of a lifetime but they also understand why the decision was taken,” he said.
“HFCA will make it up to the players once this COVID-19 crisis passes, but for now our focus is player safety. HFCA would like to apologise to all our donors and sponsors who contributed to our preparations for Finland, especially Smart Axiata,” he added.
The HFCA was supposed to send a squad of eight players from different parts of Cambodia. Three of the players are from Siem Reap, two from Kandal and once each from Kampot, Prey Veng and Takeo.
According to Grogan, the youngest player is 19 and the oldest 24 with an average age of 20 and were due to be coached by manager Kimhong Thong, who coached the team last year in the United Kingdom.
“Phanna Phorn, Menghong Kim, Dorn Art, Po Oem, Mar Phor, Samey Sao, Pheak Porn and Nivath Veng will have to wait for their journey of a lifetime,” said Grogan, referring to some of the players.
The squad from Cambodia was among 500 players from 50 countries that were invited to participate in the week-long festival of football.
Last year, the HFCA sent a team to compete in the Homeless World Cup 2019 held at Cardiff in the United Kingdom.
Run by the HWCF, the Homeless Word Cup seeks to inspire homeless and other underprivileged people to change their lives for the better. The first Homeless World Cup was held in Graz, Austria in 2003.