The latest SALT Football League season got under way at the Battambang airfield on Sunday with about 800 boys and girls getting stuck into action, while being taught important life skills by locally based organiser Sports and Leadership Training Academy.
Forty boys’ teams and 22 girls’ teams are registered to compete every Sunday in various age groups until the end of the season in March.
“The number of girls is especially remarkable,” said Reinhard Scheumann, director of international projects at the German Christian charity organisation Geschenke der Hoffnung, which has supported the work of the SALT Academy for numerous years.
“You don’t need much equipment – one ball, maybe some shoes. It’s a global sport, and everyone knows the rules.
“It’s a positive activity because it promotes team-building and exercise. The children are empowered through sport because, while they are being trained, they are also training others. It’s a great principle,” he said.
Goalkeeper Yun Pov, 17, said she was inspired to play football after watching it regularly on TV when she was younger.
With the full backing of her parents, she has competed in the SALT League for the past three seasons.
“Even if I have only a little experience, I can help teach the younger children,” Yun Pov said.
Chum Leakena, 13, is a striker with a year and a half of competitive football behind her. “I’m strong, so I don’t worry about getting hurt,” she said, adding that she would like to play football her entire life.