Since December of last year, the One Goal tournament was in the works. Starting as a vision of empowering and bringing children together from all over Cambodia through sport, One Goal engages and supports youth development, especially targeting vulnerable youth. Smart Axiata and World Vision International in Cambodia partnered together to realize this goal.
The program worked to bring youth together in teams and facilitate football practices. Not only did the youth come to learn more about teamwork on the field, but they also were empowered to value themselves, learn how to make a positive impact through their future aspirations, and form lifelong friendships with their teammates and communities. The program drew the youth away from harmful environments at home and keeping them off of the streets. One Goal also encouraged gender equality, as it targeted both boys and girls, with almost half of the 408 participants being female, across three districts in Cambodia. As youth in Cambodia are hugely marginalized, this program focuses on empowering the youth and takes steps towards solving the problem of emotional poverty.
In the next year, World Vision and Smart are hoping to expand the program to fourteen districts and roughly 2,000 youths
After attending roughly twenty coaching sessions, the hard work of the youth led up to the weekend of June 17th-18th, when the vision of a tournament bringing youths from all over Cambodia to meet with each other and compete was realized. After the youths travelled to the Phnom Penh Crown Stadium in the morning of the 17th, there was a large welcome and then a series of friendly matches designed to warm up the players and allow them to become comfortable; familiar with the other youths and with the setting. All of the youth played remarkably well, and enjoyed the matches.
The next morning, bright and early, the youths came together again, this time in mixed teams, with youth from all different provinces, to play some more friendly matches before the real competition began after lunch. In this, the teams from each district played against each other in a series of tournament-style rounds, in which the team from the Koh Krolor Area Programme won the tournament. Afterwards there was a closing ceremony with a trophy awarded to the winning team, and photo taking.
The tournament was a definite success; the youths enjoyed the competitions, both friendly and tournament-style, and it was a fantastic way to finish off the first program. In the next year, World Vision and Smart are hoping to expand the program to fourteen districts and roughly 2,000 youths, continuing to empower the youth in Cambodia, and encouraging and equipping them for making wise choices to better their futures. World Vision looks forward to continuing One Goal and seeing all the future holds in store for the youths involved.
The story is written by Anna Merryman, an internatioanl volunteer at World Vision.