Last year, the Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) – an NGO providing education to underprivileged children in Cambodia – made global headlines with its “socially distanced” football initiative.

This year, a world-class football club – Tottenham Hotspur FC – will wear special edition jerseys to show their support for ISF Cambodia at the club’s home match against Sheffield United on May 2.

Tottenham Hotspur, along with a long-term partner, the insurance and finance corporation AIA, will replace the corporate logo on the front of the team’s jerseys for this match and add a logo to promote the causes that the ISF champions.

The club’s players will add their signatures to their match-worn jerseys and then put them up for auction to raise funds for the ISF and the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, a charity connected to the team that works with their local community.

Donna-Maria Cullen, executive director at Tottenham Hotspur, was quoted as saying: “We have seen the positive impact of ISF Cambodia in Phnom Penh first-hand and are pleased to be supporting such a worthwhile cause to help raise its profile and provide valuable funds, alongside our partners at AIA.

“As a football club with a truly global platform, we have extensive experience in using the power of sport to create life-changing opportunities at home and abroad.

“ISF is one of a number of good causes we have supported alongside AIA as we continue to work together to promote health and well-being across the Asia-Pacific region, where we have a significant fanbase,” Cullen said.

Aside from providing direct education to children in impoverished communities, ISF Cambodia also use sport to attract thousands of children to participate in their programmes.

ISF welcomed Tottenham Hotspur’s Global Football Development coaches who worked with participants and volunteer coaches to support grassroots football initiative in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

AIA Cambodia and ISF Cambodia have been teaming up for a number of years, but now they will be assisted by the Tottenham Hotspur Global Football Development coaches who work with the kids and with volunteer coaches to support the ISF’s grassroots football initiatives in Phnom Penh.

“We are thankful to receive this invaluable support through ISF’s partnership with Tottenham Hotspur and AIA. Having the ISF logo on the jerseys during an EPL match is a great honour for our organisation, our children and all people in Cambodia,” said Vicheka Chourp, ISF’s country manager.

“This is not only a great recognition of our work; it is added motivation for us to continue supporting thousands of underprivileged children in Cambodia – making a difference, one child at time,” Chourp said.

As the group chief marketing officer of AIA, Stuart Spencer has worked with ISF as a community partner since 2017 to help bring education to disadvantaged children. They use sport – particularly football – to encourage friendship and fun amongst the Cambodian children.

“We are delighted to be able to offer ISF the global exposure that comes through our partnership with Tottenham Hotspur and we hope a broader audience will be able to recognise and support ISF in the future.”

AIA Cambodia stated that it was their honour to be a part of this initiative and continue their longstanding partnership with Tottenham Hotspur and ISF, especially to support underprivileged Cambodian children.

Tottenham Hotspur football stars sporting ISF shirts. Photo supplied

“Funds raised will not only be channelled towards these children, but also contribute indirectly towards creating more awareness among Cambodians that there’s so much more we can do as a society to improve the welfare of the country’s underprivileged young,” said Pauline Teoh, the CEO of AIA Cambodia.

Four Asia-based football coaches from the Tottenham Hotspur Global Football Development support AIA by running a grassroots football programme, providing football opportunities to over 65,000 players and coaches since 2017.

“This is the third time that Tottenham Hotspur has worn special edition shirts in support of AIA’s international charity partnerships, having supported the AIA China Youth Football Development Programme in 2015 and AIA Thailand’s ‘Sharing a Life’ in 2016,” according to ISF Cambodia.

“We are extremely grateful to everyone at Tottenham Hotspur and AIA for making this possible. We will be watching the match from Cambodia, cheering the team on,” added Chourp.

AIA ISF Youth League. Photo supplied

With over 15 years of experience, ISF Cambodia uses education, sport and community development initiatives to give vulnerable children and their families the tools to lift themselves from poverty.

Children from some of the poorest communities in Phnom Penh who are otherwise unable to attend school are able to cram two schoolyears of national curriculum into one year to catch up to their correct grade for their age so that they can then enroll at a state school.

In the area of sport, more than 3,000 young players including children with disabilities and HIV positive children are provided with sport-for-development activities.

ISF has also urged football organisations around the world to try out Socially Distanced Football, a way to enjoy the game and get some exercise while avoiding direct contact with others in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

ISF has received enquiries from around the world and has worked with an Indian NGO on how to adapt this version of the game for their country.

For more information, please visit or Facebook page: @isf.cambodia.