Sport & Life Skills: Putting the ‘Fun’ in Functional
Phnom Penh, 18 June, 2017– International NGO World Vision and Cambodia’s leading mobile operator Smart Axiata celebrated today the final tournament of One Goal, a joint pilot project to equip and empower vulnerable youth to achieve their potential.
One Goal, which kicked off in December last year, targets youths outside the school system with the aim of engaging them in high quality football and life skill training. World Vision could not have been more pleased to have Smart Axiata as a key partner with shared values and beliefs in creating positive change and empowering Cambodians to help their communities become more sustainable.
“This program has filled a gap in the communities where World Vision works by specifically targeting youth who often miss out on opportunities. One Goal works with and supports youth to value themselves, form strong relationships with their peers and communities, and make positive decisions for their future. And of course, it trains them in football too!” said Nicole Johnson, Technical Lead Youth for World Vision.
“We’ve been excited to see so many youth – and female youth – participate and benefit from this pilot project!” added Nicole.
408 youths, 190 of them female, have participated in the project in three districts, namely Koh Andaeth, Koh Krolor and Rovieng. With the help of Phnom Penh Crown Football Club as well as local sports and leadership training NGO SALT Academy, each youth has received up to 20 life skill and football coaching sessions, which are extremely crucial as they transition from being youths to adults.
Echoing Nicole, Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata said, “The National Football Tournament marks the amazing culmination of the One Goal pilot project. We are delighted that this project which combines important learning elements with football has been a great success so far. Smart is a great believer in sport for development initiatives and has also supported organizations like HFCA to give homeless children of Cambodia an opportunity to rebuild their lives through the game of football.”
“This One Goal partnership is another evidence that football is one of the many powerful tools that can make substantial changes in the lives of underprivileged children and inspire them to reach new hopes and dreams. We are excited about collaborating further with World Vision and the respective partners as this program scales up nationally”, Thomas added.
Part of the year-long project is also to bring the youths away from violence, drug abuse and other negative behaviors and rather occupy their time with productive activities through which they are able to make better choices in their lives. World Vision will expand the target areas to 14 districts, involving around 2,000 youths next year.
Toch Ten, a participant from Koh Krolor district, used to frequently spend time consuming alcohol. Now, he and his friends learn about vocational skills and unity.
“Before engaging in the program activities, I wasted time on useless activities with friends,” reflected Toch. “I found that football could help me release stress and make me happy. One Goal has changed my behavior in a good way.”
With youths making up 33 percent of the Cambodian population, World Vision and Smart Axiata’s corporate partnership to help shape a more positive future for young Cambodians is indeed a step in the right direction.