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National partner profile: Cambodia

Happy Football Cambodia Australia

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Happy Football Cambodia Australia aim to work with disadvantaged youth in Cambodia through the medium of football.

HFCA funds a football programme in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. Their four partner organisations in Cambodia work with young people who come from families who are living in extreme poverty, children who have been orphaned, lived on dumps or rescued from brothels or other forms of slavery. HFCA's weekly training sessions and competitions are attended by male and female players aged 12 to 25. Most of their coaching staff are former Homeless World Cup players.

Their programme offers young people an opportunity to learn the skills required to play the game and to be part of a team. Participants are provided with football boots and other gear, as well as the best possible training from professional coaches from the Cambodian Football Federation. They pay all the costs associated with the programme. This allows their partner organisations to offer a free service to the young participants.

In Cambodia, the number of girls who attend school as well as sporting programmes is far smaller than the number of boys. HFCA are committed to working with girls as well as boys, and work hard to encourage girls to take part in their programme.

Weekly training sessions are run by 16 coaches – nine of whom are former Homeless World Cup players who successfully interviewed for the coaching positions and are now receiving their first regular salary.

HFCA have coordinated the Cambodian team to take part in every Homeless World Cup tournament since 2008.

Player profiles & Stories

Mission statement

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Happy Football Cambodia Australia hope that through football they can give marginalised children and youth a reason to smile and forget about the issues they face - even if it is only for few hours when they are training or playing a game.

Every year they aim to take a team to the Homeless World Cup so they can dream of representing Cambodia on an international stage and have a life changing experience.

Goals for the future

Programme Development

To expand their football programmes across Cambodia

Health Education

To promote health through sports

Social Inclusion

To reduce the number of people playing football on the street and instead encourage them to play in a safe environment.

Women's Programmes

To increase the numbers of female participants

Additional information

Partner since

2008

Football Activities

Saturday training sessions and running national events and tournaments, such as the Charity Cup

Team selection

Players, coming from different partner organisations, are selected by the coaches according to their skills and personal development.

Non-football services

Access to employment, education, and professional training, coaching, and refereeing programmes

Participants challenges

Poverty, violence, sexual exploitation, and a lack of access to education

Country challenges

Over one third of the population of Cambodia lives below the poverty line. Decades of war and internal conflicts have left many economic and social problems, including large slums populations and squatter areas for migrants from rural areas (Rural Poverty). According to reports by different NGOs, the shelters for homeless people and rehabilitation centres resemble prisons and instead of delivering social services, their employees beat and sexually exploit the detainees (Strangio, 2014, p. 168).

Homlessness definition

Homeless people fall into the category of specific vulnerable groups according to the Cambodian National Social Protection Strategy. Social services for homeless people are provided by the Ministry of Social Services, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation, but there is no official definition (MOSVY, 2014).

Homelessness Statistics

More than 180,000 people live in informal settlements in Phnom Penh (Youth Exchange, 2003) and there are around 20,000 street children who are often the victims of human trafficking (City Journal, 2013). Human Rights Watch (2012) reports about serious mistreatments of homeless people by police.

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