ON THE BALL
Five CCF girls are off to America for a football camp funded by the U.S. Department of State
Growing up in Cambodia, CCF student Sochita loved playing football but faced some opposition from those in the community who believed it was not a sport for girls.
But Sochita, now 17, has proved the doubters wrong. Her skills with the ball will take her to America after she was selected to take part in a soccer and leadership camp fully funded by the U.S. government.
Sochita is one of five CCF girls chosen for the trip, their first time travelling overseas.
“Since I was a little girl, I liked playing soccer and I would play with the boys,” said Sochita.
“I never thought having the opportunity to go to the United States would happen to me.”
Sochita and the other girls were recommended for the spots on the Sports Visitor Program by the ASA Foundation, after they completed its six-month project called Empowering Youth Through Sports in Phnom Penh run in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh.
Sochita said the project, which encouraged life skills development and healthy habits, while empowering young girls to get active in sports, taught her discipline and helped her get good results at school.
CCF’s five female football stars and their ASA coach, Leakhena Prum, will spend two weeks in America, leaving at the end of June, visiting New Jersey and New York.
At a congratulatory ceremony held at CCF’s Neeson Cripps Academy, the girls were praised for their success, watched by their families and peers.
Scott Neeson, CCF Founder and Executive Director, said: “It is an absolute joy to see these girls get an opportunity to go to the U.S.
“I am so impressed by them, they are very high achieving and determined. They are students who don’t always stand out but I could not have picked five better candidates myself.”
100 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds took part every week in the ASA Foundation project and the best students were from CCF, Gary Anderson, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, told them.
“CCF is a close partner of the U.S. Embassy and we would like to thank not only the students and staff but also Scott Neeson, and the whole CCF team for your commitment to making a difference to this young Cambodian generation,” said Mr Anderson.
“I encourage you to go, learn and come back and share your experiences with fellow CCF students,” he told the five girls.
“We believe that you will make a positive impact in the CCF community and be great ambassadors for CCF, the U.S. Embassy and Cambodia.”
Sochita’s grandmother, who brings her up, also got up on stage to talk proudly about the life-changing chance for her granddaughter.
“I am happy for my granddaughter,” she said, in an emotional speech. “Although she does have parents, she is like an orphan. Her family, my son, is a drug addict.
“I always tell her that if you do not learn, no-one else will help you. This is a great opportunity for her.
“Education will help her have a bright future and be successful.”
Cambodia is one of 13 countries chosen for the global Sports Visitor Program, so the 5 students will be representing their country as well as CCF, and mixing with other football-mad girls from around the world.
During their American adventure, they will get plenty of chances to show off their soccer skills at camps and learn new techniques from other countries. There will also be sessions on leadership, including public speaking and team-building, as well as cultural and sporting events.
“I am very excited about going abroad for the first time,” said. Maly, 15, one of four sisters but the only one who plays football.
Fellow player Rotha, 15, is a big believer in girl power on and off the sports field. “Girls can play soccer as good as the boys,” she said.
As if they need any more motivation, the last words from Scott Neeson should inspire them to show America what they can do.
“Go hit some goals on behalf of Cambodia and CCF,” he told them
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