Indochina Starfish Foundation has been announced as the winner of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Dream Asia Award 2018 in the NGO category for promoting and advancing the power of football to create positive social change in Asian society.
“I believe that football is a powerful agent of social change not just because of its ability to unify people but also because of its potential to teach important life skills” says Vicheka Chourp, ISF’s country manager, speaking at the awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Wednesday, 12 September 2018. After ten years with the organisation, Vicheka has seen first-hand how participation in football has changed lives in the community where she works in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital.
ISF’s work centres on providing quality education, healthcare and access to sport and play to some of Cambodia’s most disadvantaged and marginalised youth. Their football programme includes a full annual schedule consisting of weekly coaching sessions, annual tournaments, a youth league and various other festivals and events. All of ISF’s coaches are trained in child protection, social impact education and supporting players with a range of needs including but not limited to: deaf/hearing-impaired, blind/vision-impaired, wheelchair users, and youth affected by HIV. For these children, the programme offers a chance to develop skills, such as teamwork, leadership, decision-making and resilience; all of which are transferable to their studies and daily lives.
ISF’s commitment to promoting social change through football also saw them shortlisted for this year’s Beyond Sport’s Sport for Health and Well-being Award at an awards ceremony which took place in New York on Wednesday, 12 September. Selected from over 400 applications, from 100+ countries and covering 50+ sports, the Beyond Sport shortlist recognises innovative work from organisations and individuals creating positive social impact in communities around the world through sport. One of ISF’s star players and coach, Tith Sovannara was also shortlisted for the Courageous Use of Sport Award, supported by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
Speaking of the recent accolades, Vicheka said that she is “honoured to see ISF’s work in community-based football for social change being recognised at such a prestigious and international level”. “Bringing home the Dream Asia award demonstrates and validates the importance of the work we’re doing here in Cambodia” she added.