Ten-year-old Ratha dreams big
Ten-year-old Ratha* used to kick a football about with his friends and dreamt of one day leaving his rural hometown in Cambodian’s southern Prey Veng Province to become a professional football player and play for a real team.
Although Ratha did leave his village it was because his family could not make a living where they were and decided to relocate to the city of Phnom Penh in search for a better life. Ratha and his family moved into a small rented property in the dumpsite area of Stung Meanchey and soon after the move, Ratha joined ISF’s Catch-up Education Programme.
Like many of our catch-up students, Ratha soon joined our Football Programme too, signing up for our U10 Boys’ team where he currently enjoys playing as a goalkeeper and competeing in the annual AIA-ISF Youth League. He trains every week after school and describes the programme as having changed him: “I think I’m different now than to when I didn’t play football with ISF because I’ve learnt more about football skills and techniques and my performance and patience is improving”.
ISF provides football kits to all players and for Ratha having the full kit of shin pads, football boots, and gloves makes him feel safe and confident. Every goal saved during a match is a source of pride for Ratha and makes him feel part of the team. Even though he knows there must always be winners and losers in the game, he can’t help but feel down after losing a match. But, he believes losing teaches his team to do better next time and to work well together and cooperate.
Football is a sport that Ratha recommends because he wants other children to experience the joy and healthier lifestyle that it has given him. He believes organised competitions like the AIA-ISF Youth League, The Ian Thompson Memorial ISF Boys’ Tournament and the HKFC-ISF Football Tournament are very important because having a chance to compete in such a big games means that his team trains extra hard to be in with a chance of winning.
Now that he’s started playing football again, Ratha is once more dreaming of becoming a professional football player.
*Names of children under 18 have been changed