The team behind the Globalteer Siem Reap Junior Soccer League is gearing up for a new season starting on January 8. The kids’ competition brings together teams from organisations and schools all over Siem Reap, including the Sangkheum Centre, ABCs and Rice, The International School, Anjali House and Grace House.
The event organiser Gary Hodder is pleased with the tournament’s success so far.
“Last year over 400 children of all ages and abilities, boys and girls, were able to play and take part in the league. It’s going fantastically well, and is very popular with the children and staff from participating organisations”, he said from the United States recently.
Building on that success, Englishman Hodder is hoping to add even more teams to the mix this year, bringing the total up to 24.
The league is organised by age-group – U11s, U14s and U17s – and match days will feature ten 30-minute group games in order to maximise the playing time for each child. The pitch, located at the Bakheng playing field near the Angkor Thom temple complex, is also a smaller size so that the legs aren’t completely run off them all.
Bridget Cordory, manager of Grace House, a local NGO based on the road down to fishing village Chong Kneas, says the kids love the opportunity to play, and have already been harassing her for extra coaching. According to Cordory, the benefits of this league are manifold.
“The tournament gives them a great opportunity to meet other kids, learn to work as a team, learn new skills and really to take pride in Grace House and their community”.
Grace House pupils come from the villages that tourists pass by on their way to visit the Tonle Sap lake.
“They’re proud to be representing their community. They come from very poor families. Some of them have never even been to Siem Reap before, even though they only live a few kilometres away”, said Cordory.
The plan is for the whole competition to be handed over to Cambodian control, and Hodder has been training local referees and coaches over the last few years as well as organising the games. The tournament organisers are thrilled with the sponsorship they’ve received so far from businesses and organisations in Siem Reap and abroad, as well as many private individual donors, and the hope is for more to come forward to help fund field rental, uniforms, equipment, transport and prizes. Those wishing to sponsor or take part can contact the organisers through their dedicated facebook page.