ISF Country Manager gives an award at 2020 Goldman Sachs Gives – ISF Girls’ Tournament

Two Boys Find Passion and Self-Improvement Through Football

Donors who sponsor an ISF football team help some of Cambodia’s most marginalised children access their right to play, improve their health and gain confidence. Leng Vandeth* and Sok Chandara* play for a sponsored football team supported by Johnson & Johnson Medical. Before they joined the team, neither had access to regular opportunities for sport. Through their involvement with ISF coaches, each has found mentorship, increased self-esteem and improved health. Discover their stories below.

Johnson & Johnson Medical Sponsored Football Team eagerly awaits play at the Ian Thompson Memorial - ISF Boys' Tournament
Sponsored Football Teams eagerly awaiting play at the Ian Thompson Memorial – ISF Boys’ Tournament

Vandeth Finds Strength Through Football

Leng Vandeth* is incredibly passionate about football. This 10-year old has been participating in ISF’s Football Programme for five years and says the sport has a positive impact on his life.  The young player reports overall health improvements as well as heightened dexterity since he started training.

Vandeth was selected to play for Johnson & Johnson Medical, a U10 Boys’ team for Poun Phnom Primary School. He proudly plays defender for his team—composed of other Poun Phnom students. Before joining the team, he would play football with his friends in the streets surrounding his home, though he did so without the benefit of proper kit or training. Now, he has access to regular, engaging football coaching. Vandeth gets hands-on guidance from qualified ISF coaches twice a week at school. He rarely misses a session.

To this youth, our annual Ian Thompson Memorial – ISF Boys’ Tournament is a momentous event. it gives him and hundreds of his peers an opportunity to have fun, work as a team and be active. According to Vandeth, football has made him more courageous and confident. He owes it to motivation and advice received from his coach and solidarity with his team mates. His family also plays an important role in encouraging him to continue playing football.

Vandeth encourages all his friends to start playing football; asking them to join him when they have a chance. He wants them to feel the same exhilaration he does when his team wins a championship medal. When he grows up, Vandeth wants to become a professional player. 

“I feel braver and more confident in expressing my ideas as well as more aware of my responsibilities.”

Puth Thyda joins 408 girls in a solidarity walk at 2020 Goldman Sachs Gives – ISF Girls’ Tournament
For hundreds of young players events like our Boys’ Tournament is incredibly important

Chandara’s Supportive Sports Community

Before ISF, Sok Chandara* had no opportunities for regular football training. He started playing football when he was six. Though, in the beginning, he only kicked the ball around for fun with other kids in his neighbourhood. In 2018, he took his football journey to the next level by joining ISF’s Football Programme. Now that ISF coaches travel to his school for training sessions, Chandara’s become absorbed in the game. He’s learnt more about the sport than he would have on his own and often counts the days until his next training session.

He’s studying grade three and plays attacker and defender for the Johnson & Johnson sponsored U10 boys’ team. Not surprisingly,fun is what keeps him motivated to play football. The moments he treasures most are seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces and hearing the roar of cheering crowds. He cherishes the support he gets from his family as well. They encourage him to keep playing and do his best. Their influence has made him an advocate for the sport to his friends and peers.

Though it’s not all fun and games, Chandara sees the most important aspect of competitions like the Ian Thompson memorial – ISF Boys’ Tournament is how they encourage each team to work hard to reach a goal. He also appreciates the opportunity to meet and get to know children living in other provinces and traveling to new environments outside of his home in Phnom Penh. In the future, he wants to become a professional player.

When asked how his life has changed through football, Chandara shares, ‘I feel braver and more confident in expressing my ideas as well as more aware of my responsibilities.’

If you or your organisation would like to give disadvantaged youth an opportunity to play by sponsoring a team, find out more here.

*Names of children under 18 years old are changed to protect their privacy.