Eight players from slum communities in Phnom Penh will travel abroad for the first time in their lives to represent their country in the 2017 SATUC Cup in Qatar. The event brings together young disadvantaged and orphaned players from 24 countries around the world.

ISF Football Programme Manager, Yin Samedy explained: “These are some of the poorest children in Cambodia. They would never even have dreamt of travelling abroad to play football at an international tournament. Taking part in the SATUC Cup is a once in a lifetime opportunity for these young players to prove to themselves and others what they are capable of achieving.”

For ISF’s young players this is just the beginning of what will be a challenging few months of selection, training and preparation. Supported by the dedicated ISF Football Programme Team, the players will take part in three intensive training camps to get them ready for their international debut in October.

Veasna* is one of the eight talented young men selected for the Cambodian squad. This will not only be Veasna‘s first time in Qatar, but also his first time out of Cambodia:

“I have been playing football since I was 10. I always do my best during the trainings and matches, but I have never thought that I would be selected to play football abroad. I am so excited and proud because the competition was tough; there were many talented players, but in the end they chose me to join the team.  I have never been out of Cambodia before and I have never played in international games. I cannot wait to get on an airplane and fly! It will be interesting to meet other football players from all over the world and make new friends. I am sure there will be so much to learn from them, not just about football, but also about life and different cultures.”

These children live in slum communities marked by poverty where there is little space to play. Football gives them a way to escape from their harsh living conditions. When they step onto the football field, they can forget about everything that is wrong and worries them, and simply have fun and play.

Veasna and his seven teammates are very honoured and grateful to have been selected to represent Cambodia at the 2017 SATUC Cup and have high hopes of bringing home the cup in October.