Playing for change

Posted by Peter MUIR


ISFThe Indochina Starfish Foundation’s Football Program provides us with an example of using sport as a medium for social change. What ideas could you take form this and apply them in your Community Engagement efforts?

The Foundation
The Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) provides education, healthcare and sporting opportunities to some of the most disadvantaged
children in Cambodia. In addition ISF provides support services to the families of the children in our education program in an attempt to break the cycle of poverty they are currently trapped in.

The Football Programme
ISF, along with the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC), plays a key role in providing grassroots foot-balling opportunities to some of Cambodia’s most disadvantaged children. Since its inception in 2006 the Football Program has been staggeringly successful. What started with 50 children in 2006 had risen to 3,500 in 2014. The female contingent of players grew from 48 in 2008, to over 1,400 in 2014 and since 2011 the program has expanded to include deaf and hearing impaired players and recently children with intellectual disabilities. It is often hard to describe what an effect this program has on the children. For most it is an opportunity to break the cycle of the harshness of life they have found themselves in. Importantly it gives them a chance. The program is run in a way so as to both educate and enthuse the youngsters The ISF football program teaches many skills the children can use in other areas of their lives, such as respect, teamwork and self confidence. The ISF uses the football platform to teach the children valuable life lessons such as the perils of drugs, alcohol, gambling and the dangers of prevalent social issues such as domestic violence, human trafficking and gender equality. The regular contact with the ISF coaches also gives the children access to experienced and trusted role models which are genuinely important in such disadvantaged societies.