Inter Milan wing looking into management capabilities
IF all goes well, this week's free football clinic for disadvantaged Cambodian youths could be the start of a long and rewarding relationship with Inter Campus, the youth development wing of Italian football giants Inter Milan who are behind the program.
Italian coaches Gabriele Raspelli and Fabrizio Piccareta touched down Friday in Phnom Penh with a double agenda: to host training seminars with 60 at-risk kids as well as local football coaches, and to assess whether conditions are ripe in the nation for a permanent Inter Campus operation.
Piccareta said Inter Campus is involved in 18 schemes worldwide and that there were encouraging signs partners in Cambodia would be capable of playing a key role in managing a program here.
"We hope that Cambodia will be the 19th country," he said at a news conference Sunday.
"We are here to see whether there are grounds to set up a new, permanent Inter Campus in Cambodia."
200 coaches worldwide
Started in 1997 when Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti felt compelled to help poor children in Brazil, where he owns a home, Inter Campus uses football primarily as a tool for social work.
The organisation employs seven coaches, including Raspelli and Piccareta, who travel between Inter Campus branches training and consultation services, while some 200 local trainers manage the programs on a day-to-day basis.
The idea was to "teach a man how to fish rather than just giving him the fish", Piccareta said.
This week's four-day football clinic, which will be followed by a day-long course for 15 local coaches on Friday, is the fruition of efforts by Irish social worker Paraic Grogan, who first met Raspelli and Piccareta in Australia two years ago.
Happy Football Cambodia (Australia) (HFCA), which Grogan co-founded, has fronted US$12,000 to host the Italian pair this week.
We are here to see whether there are grounds for a new, permanent inter campus in cambodia.
"We do this to promote the work we do for poor children in Cambodia and then to give those 60 children a fantastic experience," Grogan said of the clinic's participants, adding that eight of the youngsters would be travelling to Melbourne next month for the Homeless World Cup.
Grogan is first in line to take charge of the Inter Campus program should it become a permanent fixture in Cambodia.
The scheme is not sanctioned by official Cambodian football bodies and is intended mainly to give kids a chance to enjoy aspects of childhood that grinding poverty can cancel out.
Children aged 12 to 18 were participating via local NGOs Happy School, Riverkids, the Indochina Starfish Foundation and the Center for Children to Happiness.