HOMELESS WORLD CUP 2018: VANNET PHAL
4 young CCF footballers have been chosen to represent Cambodia in the Homeless World Cup 2018 in Mexico in November. Meet Vannet Phal, the first in our series profiling the CCF stars
Growing up in rural Cambodia, Vannet Phal would kick a football with his friends around a makeshift pitch on wasteland near their homes and dream of one day playing on the world stage.
In a few months, Vannet, now 20, will be living out his fantasy when he represents his country in the Homeless World Cup in Mexico as part of a team put together by Happy Football Cambodia Australia (HFCA).
Vannet will be one of four CCF players chosen for the eight-man national squad making the 15,600 km journey to Mexico.
More than 500 footballers representing 47 countries will descend on Mexico City in November for the week-long festival of football, in what promises to be one of the most spectacular Homeless World Cup tournaments yet.
It will be the first time that Vannet, who works as a chef in a Phnom Penh restaurant, has been on an aeroplane or travelled outside Cambodia.
“I feel proud and happy to be one of the team selected for the World Cup,” says Vannet.
“I’m really excited to be going to Mexico. I did not expect that my life could be transformed in such a way that I could be going overseas.”
Life was not easy for Vannet, one of nine children, growing up in Prey Veng province.
Money for the large family was tight, surviving one the income from a food stall, and the idea of one day playing for his country and going abroad must have seemed an impossible pipe dream for the football-obsessed youngster.
“My friends and I would play football in the province. I was about 10 or 11 and I was really passionate about football even back then,” says Vannet.
Two years ago, Vannet’s fortunes began to change when he was accepted into CCF’s Education Assistance Package (EAP), which gives disadvantaged children the opportunity to study and provides support to the families.
Through CCF, he joined the football program run by HFCA, one of CCF’s partners.
“Playing football has made me stronger and healthier,” says Vannet, posing proudly in the red kit of the Cambodian team for the Homeless World Cup.
“My family did not support me playing football in the beginning because they did not think it was important,” he adds.
“My passion overcame their thoughts. After they saw my commitment they supported me and when I made the achievement of being picked for the World Cup, they had a lot of pride.”
Vannet, who with his elder brother works to help support his family and four brothers and three sisters, cannot wait to show the rest of the world what he can do with a football and how far he has come.
Vannet’s favourite football player is Cristiano Ronaldo, the Juventus, ex Real Madrid and Portugal striker, widely regarded as one of the best players of his generation and all time.
Now Vannet can proudly say that he has emulated the star by representing his country at a World Cup too.
Homeless World Cup 2018
- 2018 is the 16th edition of the Homeless World Cup
- It will take place in Mexico City, the country’s capital, from November 13-18
- More than 500 players from 47 nations with 63 teams
- Expected 200,000 spectators and millions watching online
- 400 games across 3 purpose-built pitches
- Men’s/Mixed playing for 6 trophies. Women’s teams play for 2 trophies
- Defending Men’s/Mixed champions are Brazil who beat Mexico 4-3 in the final
- Mexico are the Women’s defending champions after a 4-2 win over Chile in 2017
- Teams of eight players
- 2 halves, 7 minutes each
- On a pitch 22m x 16m
Follow the build-up at www.homelessworldcup.org
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