>Presenting Team Sangkheum (Hope) of Cambodia

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The soccer team has been trained 5 days a week for year and is now ready for the kick off in the green field of Norway Cup this July. Photo: Thor Elias Engelstad

Soccer shirts donated by Sandefjord Fotball, Norway, 2005 Photo: Thor Elias Engelstad

Team Saengkheum in front of Sangkheum Center for Children in Siem Reap with Sandefjord’s striker Fredrik Thorsen (on the right) and Thomas Holdo Hansen, president of Earthwalkers Fund Cambodia (on the left). Photo: Earthwalkers

Cambodian Youth To Kick In Norway Cup

2006-06-27
ScandAsia.com

A youth football team from Cambodia will play in Norway Cup in Oslo next month. Norwegian Earthwalkers Fund Cambodia in cooperation with its network have made the dream come true.

By Satirat Dam-ampai

Earthwalkers Fund Cambodia is a non-governmental, non-political fund established by the Norwegian owned Earthwalkers Guesthouse in Siem Reap. The purpose of the Fund is to promote their education, health, development and peace. One of the projects of the Fund is to bring a youth team from Cambodia to participate in the international youth football tournament Norway Cup 2006.

The members of the youth team all come from the Sangkheum Center for unprivileged children in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The project Norway Cup has created this opportunity for the 18 eager and football loving youths aged 15 and 16 years in “Team Sangkheum” to set foot in a green field of the international football tournament in Oslo with children from more than 42 nations all around the world. Up until their departure, the team has been training about 5 days a week with a Swedish trainer Christian Larsson and one Khmer trainer Vitar.

“At the moment, we are finalizing the last details in the project. The visas have been issued for few weeks, and the flights from Bangkok to Norway have been paid,” states Project Manager of Earthwalkers Fund Cambodia, Kristin Holdo Hansen.

“Both visas and tickets are sponsored by Jotun Paint in Norway which has encouraged its staff to donate a part of their salary to Team Sangkheum to participate in this year Norway Cup. Meanwhile, Jotun Thailand has sponsored the cost of their passports.
“We are still waiting potential sponsors to finance the tickets from Siem Reap to Bangkok so the team can transit in the airport. Otherwise, the team will have to go by bus and that will incur very high cost for Thai visas. As its plan, the soccer team will arrive in Norway on July 24,” Kristin says.

Sponsors and supporters

The Norway Cup Project for children in Team Saengkhum was started by vice captain of the Norwegian premiership team Sandefjord Fotballklubb, Fredrik Thorsen. He has visited the center in Siem Reap and fully supported the project and encouraged all their sponsors and supporters to contribute in one way or another to make this great initiative become true.

On Jotun’s official website Category Manager Andreas Stolt-Nielsen says that when the project was presented to the company, the management was fascinated by the idea.
“As the main sponsor of Sandefjord Fotballklubb, we were asked if we would contribute resources so the boys could play in the Norway Cup, and the project was well received by both the employees and management,” Stolt-Nielsen says.

“The project has now achieved its goal and the boys are coming to Norway this summer. We have collected the necessary funds and Jotun is the main donor with over NOK 20,000 coming from the employees,” Stolt-Nielsen continues.

According to Jotun’s CEO Morten Fon, the company will double the 20.000 NOK that the employees collected.

In addition, 12 Jotun employees collected NOK 32,000 during the football match between Sandefjord and Fredrikstad on May 21. Stolt-Nielsen also says that many sponsors, companies and people in Sanderfjord have donated a lot and the total amount collected is a couple of hundred thousand Kroner.

During 3 weeks in Scandinavia, Norway Cup sponsors the boys for 8 days fee in the tournament. Sanderfjord also gives an offer for free accommodation and transportation from the club. Furthermore, a small company Shiringsal Folkehoyaskole would like to support on meals and another sponsor, Comfort Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord, also offers two night accommodation at the hotel.

During the year of 2005/2006, support has been pouring in from many different guests who have donated football equipment in form of footballs, football jerseys and medical supplies to the team.

Benefits from the project

This Norway Cup project is considered fruitful for unprivileged children from the center.

By bringing a soccer team from Cambodia to Norway in order to be a part of the event, Earthwalkers hopes to establish important insights in both players and leaders. An additional benefit is for the Cambodian players to become a resource both to their local communities as well as the development of sports and physical activities in Cambodia.

“I think it is really important for sports and education for children, and most of all in developing country like Cambodia, where children are so poor and those who don’t have parents or anything. They work so hard for their lives. They don’t have time to be children at all and they have to learn everything in hard way,” Kristin voices on the circumstance.

“Actually going to Norway Cup is not the important thing, for me actually, the ticket to Norway is like a motivation for the boys. It is the way they can actually learn and having fun through sports. The meeting with friends from other countries and cultures will be great experiences for them. I know they can learn so much from the trip to Norway, as you know from traveling, you will learn something new for the future,” Kristin Hansen remarks.

“Through sports, the boys can learn important values such as team work, tolerance, respect, rules which are essential in their lives and for the community they live in. So you can see the project Norway Cup as tangible result for all the efforts we have tried to build,” she ends.

You Give What You Get

Coming back to Cambodia, the boys have promised Earthwalkers to give what they get back to the local community they abide in. They have projects to promote and make awareness on environmental campaign to clean the river for a day, making placards “Keep the River Clean” along the river side, for example.

Besides, everyone in the team will have one exposed camera to shoot their own impression of this grand trip experiences during 3 weeks in Norway and Sweden. All photos will be exhibited in Siem Reap after they will be back home to share what they have got with others who do not have that kind of chance.

Last but not least, Team Sangkheum and ticket to Norway cup can be good example and motivation for other children in the next future that they also can get this good opportunity as well.

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