• 90 Trained Social Impact Coaches in Cambodia’s Capital

    August 26th, 2014. Coaches Across Continents has concluded its second week in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, working in partnership with IndoChina Starfish Foundation (ISF).  ISF is primarily an educational program which runs two schools in the capital serving to accelerate the education of children from nearby slums to a stage where they can be assimilated into the state education system.  It has evolved, however, to provide a more holistic social development role including health and welfare services, outreach work and income/employment enterprise for the children and their families. The organization is funded primarily from Australian benefactors and sponsors, and promotes football for boys and girls as one of the many strands of its education program.
    Coaches Nick, Nora, Francis, Kelly and Graham continued into the second week of the program with around 90 young coaches from ISF and other NGOs based around the capital.  The age of the coaches ranges from 14 to over 40.  Included in the mix of young men and women are a group of 13 coaches from the Deaf Development Program of Cambodia.  These coaches have brought with them an extra and enriching dimension of fun, enjoyment and challenge to the week’s activities.  Focus of the week’s football for social development program has been on gender equality, health and wellness and conflict resolution.  These have been delivered in extremely hot and humid conditions but where the energy of all involved has been high and laughter and play has pervaded right across the field.
    Cambodia is a desperately poor country, with significant numbers of people living in slum communities, particularly in the urban areas.  CAC visited one of the ISF schools and met many of the children in lessons who were fascinated to see on world maps where we had travelled from to be with them.  In turn we were greeted by eager demonstrations of their English language skills and beautiful artwork.   On leaving the school we visited the slums which were home to the children which had only just presented us with drawings and paper flowers.  Most of us had ‘experienced’ slum conditions across other continents, but the conditions in Phnom Penh were as distressing as those we’d seen in Africa and India.  In one community tiny, timber and tin shacks on stilts (to raise above the invested pools of stagnant water and trash below) were built within an abandoned cemetery with tombs all remaining in place.  It was humbling to recall that the great young coaches we have been working with on the field day after day returned to these or similar conditions day after day.
    One particularly inspirational example of the success of ISF has been the development of coach Srey Mau, who began her career as a cleaner at the school but through boundless energy, personality and selflessness has become a key coach in the organization and has embraced the CAC program with great energy and enthusiasm.  In doing so she has stood out as a shining example of the positive work and opportunities ISF and CAC are delivering together.




  • Do We Really Have to Leave?

    IMG_2002August 30, 2013. We don’t want to leave Cambodia. The first-year partnership with Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) has exceeded our own lofty expectations. From the trustees through the staff and into their two schools and football program their positive attitude and enjoyment is evident and infectious. This partnership came about because ISF reached out to CAC to see about capacity-building for their coaches who help to train nearly 3,500 youths through their soccer program and city-wide league.

    IMG_2005Already doing a great job with their two schools for the most disadvantaged children in Phnom Penh, ISF want to bring an education element to their football program. The CAC curriculum and philosophy matches that of ISF. During our two weeks we taught over 40 of our games focusing on Health & Wellness (including HIV), gender equity, and conflict resolution while also addressing general coaching improvement tips. We also watched as these ISF coaches immediately implement what they learned in their afternoon training sessions with various youth teams including one group with intellectual disability. It is great to see coaches implement the CAC curriculum so quickly and proficiently to their players.

    IMG_6124Another great point to mention with ISF is their focus on the most disadvantaged youth in Cambodia. Their schools accept children from two of the poorest areas in Phnom Penh with the goal of educating them to advance into the state school system and then into university. This week we learned that their first student has just been accepted to university. The coaches also come from these same backgrounds, many of whom attended the ISF schools. Instead of a life collecting recyclables from garbage dumps or working in the sex industry as some of their neighbors must do to survive, many coaches now have employment through ISF teaching the next generation of Cambodia’s youth. They take this role extremely serious in preparation for each training while keeping the trainings themselves enjoyable for the students with the right mix of laughter, teaching, and smiles – just like CAC!

    DSC02126During the final week ISF opened our free training to outside coaches from all over Cambodia. We received NGOs from Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Battanbang, and other cities over a half day away. A fun group were the six coaches from the Deaf Development Program who learned the games alongside their hearing counterparts and also taught the rules of the games to each other and CAC coaches through signing. The final member of our training participants was Leo, who is on the ISF Board of Trustees. Although he grew up a rugby player in Australia, his enthusiasm for soccer shone through as he watched his coaches and football program take large steps forward in their coaching abilities and in the social impact messages that they now incorporate with the CAC games.  Indochina Starfish Foundation will continue to impact the lives of the children throughout Phnom Penh through their schools and football program, working hand in hand.