August 23, 2013. This was our first week of partnership between Coaches Across Continents and Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF). This group runs two schools in Phnom Penh and a large soccer program for the most disadvantaged youths in Cambodia. Overall they impact nearly 4,000 of the country’s youth in this southeast Asian country. Here are some other important numbers from our first week here.
1: New Chelsea Kit for Havi, ISF’s newest coach in training. CAC’s training week has been her first introduction to football, and she returned after day one in head to toe Chelsea blue to show her enthusiasm for the sport.
1: Unique game of partnered duck-duck-goose invented by one of the top ISF coaches for his U14 boys practice. The USF coaches have already shown their ability to adapt CAC games and to create their own versions which teach conflict resolution, gender equity, and health and wellness issues.
5: Key Khmer terms we’ve learned in the first week:
- Sok-sa bai – How are you?
- Arun suor sdei – Good morning. (If you try to say anything in Khmer, be prepared to smile hugely at their shy faces and wave fiercely until they respond!)
- Aw kohn – thank you (especially NO, thank you, to the hoards of tuktuk drivers ready to take you anywhere. Hint: a broad smile and no response means they don’t actually know the address you’ve given them. Beware!)
- Muoy, pir, bei – one, two, three, for the different Messi, Marta, Ronaldo, and Wilshere skills we taught every morning.
- Saam leng – Voice. Our coaches have been finding their voice and confidence all week.
10: The number of goals in a 7-3 win for our ISF coaches in their afterhours futsal competition. The facility had a netted-in futsal field, foosball tables crawling with kids, and a supportive fan base of ISF and CAC staff gathered together on an unlikely looking side street. The ISF coaches and players are a beautifully tight knit community.
11: The number of times the CAC staff went up and down the waterslides. ISF’s annual treat for the NGO sponsored students if they finish at the top of their class when enrolled in state school is a trip to the Water Park. The kids jump in fully clothed and splash footprints onto the hot concrete as they turn flips into the pool and pile five-high into yellow inner tubes.
20: minutes stranded in a bland office building, waiting out an evening thunderstorm on our first night in Phnom Penh. It’s the rainy season in Cambodia, and we’d discovered a few dead ends on our stroll towards dinner.
25: hugs – a veritable stream of love – from the students enrolled in ISF’s newest school as soon as we walked in the gate. The Khmer staff is incredibly passionate and eager to practice their English as well as show us their facilities and students. In the English class we popped in on, the students rushed to gift us with drawings of lions, bananas, and flowers alongside their descriptions in English and Khmer. The courtyards are filled with children playing football and skipping rope. Here, education and football go hand in hand. We have never received a warmer welcome.
Hopefully these numbers add up to show you the great time we are having here. Next week we will be working with even more coaches that ISF have invited.