The Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) provided a platform for a wide range of disadvantaged and marginalised children and young people with varying forms of physical and intellectual disabilities to compete in an inclusive football tournament at their facility in Preah Theat village near Phnom Penh last week.
The annual all-abilities event brought together as many as 100 players, some of whom are disabled and intellectually challenged, as well as some living with HIV. It is one of the few football events that blends these vulnerable groups of players together in a competitive environment.
The ISF’s football programme, which now reaches almost 4,000 players from the humble beginnings of less than 100 a little more than a decade ago, has been designed to provide education alongside community services and sports to some of the Kingdom’s under-privileged children without discrimination based on gender, ability, religion or ethnicity.
Over 40 per cent of the players participating in the ongoing programme are girls, and as a whole the organisation works with around 300 boys and girls with disabilities including the deaf and hearing impaired, blind and vision impaired, wheelchair users, people living with HIV and those with intellectual challenges like autism, spectrum disorder and Down’s Syndrome.
“People with disabilities are often excluded from Cambodian society and rarely have access to education, sport and play. But, through our football programme, they receive regular coaching – including social impact training – and participate in integrated events throughout the year such as this tournament,’’ ISF said.
“In the event, the participants had so much fun and developed vital skills including confidence, teamwork, communication and social skills.”
The ISF profusely thanked Fifa Football For Hope and all of other supporters for making events like this possible in order to provide opportunities to a wide range of disadvantaged children and young people around the country, working in partnership with more than 30 other local non-profit organisations and schools.