ISF students Sokheng Sengkea and Sok Makara recently had the opportunity of a lifetime when they were invited to represent their country (Cambodia) at the 6th Gazprom Football for Friendship Championship running alongside the World Cup in Moscow, Russia.
The Football for Friendship (F4F) programme, supported by Gazprom and FIFA aims at developing youth football and a healthy lifestyle as well as promoting tolerance, open-mindedness and respect of different cultures and nationalities between children from across the globe. This year, the programme expanded to 211 countries and regions with Cambodia participating for the first time.
Sokheng joined young footballers from around the world in Moscow and was a part of the 32 International Teams of Friendship that played against each other in the Gazprom Football for Friendship International Championship.
Makara acted as a young journalist and reported on all the local and global activities of the F4F programme as part of the International Children’s Press Center. Healso spread awareness on the Nine Values of friendship, equality, fairness, health, peace, devotion, victory, traditions and honour of the F4F programme.
Sengkea, known to his friends as Heng, joined ISF’s Education Programme as a catch-up student where he received an intensive education to bring him up to an academic level where could enter state school at the right grade for his age. Heng is currently completing his state school education with support from ISF and is achieving excellent results.
While one part of him dreams of working in a bank when he is older, another part is focused on being the best footballer he can be and he also dreams of becoming a football coach. Heng is a very active participant in ISF’s Football Programme and when the Football Federation of Cambodia, which doesn’t yet have an under-13s program, got in contact with the Football Team at ISF, looking for representatives to travel to Moscow for the opening of the World Cup, Heng was a shoe-in. The experience, he tells us, is something he’ll treasure.
“Russia was very different to Cambodia” he says. “In Moscow, the buildings were so tall and the city was nice. The language and food was different too but I liked it. It was my first time away from home and flying for the first time was a little scary but on my way home I knew what to expect and it felt normal. I’m so happy to have received this opportunity.
Watching the World Cup in real life was wonderful. Everyone was so excited for me to go, my family, my friends, even my teachers at ISF! I met people from all over the world like India and China and we played lots of football together and I made new friends. The trip was for 10 days and my favourite part was when we played football. I scored two goals!”
Heng and Makara’s talents are already making waves and the local media here in Phnom Penh have been very interested in following their story. Read more about their achievements in the following articles: