On July 24th, Little Hearts’ young footballers had a chance to improve their skills and play several matches at Soccer Festival, a tournament for junior players hosted by Preah Khan Svay Rieng Football Club. Founded by Dy Vichea, Svay Rieng FC is a professional club that has won several trophies over the past few years in local tournaments, including the Hun Sen Cup and the Metfone Cambodia League Cup, and is currently on track to win this year’s Cambodian Premier League.
Through a recommendation from our football coach, Little Hearts’ junior boys (aged 9 to 13) were invited to the tournament at the club’s training grounds near the Win-Win Monument on the northern outskirts of Phnom Penh. Our young footballers were escorted by our tuk-tuk driver Billy and supervised by two of our older boys, Noah and Sambo, and cheered on by Maya, Chrissy and Jule. Sarim came along to document the day as a photographer and reporter.
At the training camp, our boys met the rest of the tournament participants from Team Flame, Mercy Team International, Prek Leap, and others from Phnom Penh who had joined through the club’s Facebook page. All the players were mixed up and divided into eight teams that would face off in three rounds of concurrent matches across four football pitches. In each round, teams competed in one match against one of the other teams, playing according to the results so that teams that won their previous matches would play each other and teams that lost took on other losing teams. Each game was 30 minutes long, with five-minute breaks between matches. On the pitch, the kids were coached by the football club’s staff, so they received professional guidance as they played.
In the end, there were no winners or losers, as the festival’s purpose was to promote friendship and provide an enjoyable sporting experience for the kids. The event ended with a big group photo of all the participants and a short speech by Christopher Grant, the club’s event manager, who expressed his appreciation to all those who attended and promised that everyone would be invited for another friendly junior tournament in the near future. Finally, Little Hearts and some of the other groups were presented with a certificate of participation from the club, which Sambo gratefully accepted on our behalf.
Thank you to Svay Rieng FC and Mr. Chris for organising such a wonderful event. It is safe to say that Little Hearts’ day at the Soccer Festival was a success; it was a great opportunity for team bonding and skill development. We hope our boys will be invited again so they can continue to show off their stylish jerseys! Meanwhile, we are exploring the possibility of setting up a long-term partnership with the club’s academy, Elite Soccer Training, so that our football-crazy boys can receive high-level coaching on a regular basis.