He didn’t play sport either and seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a fisherman one day.
His life changed when he joined our partner Cambodian Childrens Fund education program at the age of 11. Now 18, Buntan studies, plays sports and has his sights firmly set on one day achieving his goal of becoming a professional footballer. He’s going to get a taste of playing on a big stage in November when he represents Cambodia in the Homeless World Cup in Mexico. As one of four Cambodian Childrens Fund (CCF) players chosen for the eight-man national squad, he’ll be flying the flag for his country, HFCA and our partner organisation CCF.
“Not so long ago, I did not know anything about football and now I am going to a World Cup,” says Buntan.“I am very excited to go to Mexico. I have never left Cambodia before.”
Buntan, who can play in midfield and defence, is one of eight children. He grew up in Kandal province with his two sisters and five brothers where life was hard but the family pulled together as best they could.
“We were a poor family and my parents did not have enough money to send me to school. We did not have enough food sometimes.”
Discovering football when he HFCA, gave Buntan a focus and inspired his own development. "I learnt about teamwork and being responsible. I have become stronger and fitter, and eat healthier,” he says.
At the Homeless World Cup Buntan and the rest of the team will meet players from 47 countries from across the globe, representing nations as diverse as Kenya, Lithuania, Pakistan and the United States.
When he takes to the pitch for the first time wearing the national jersey of Cambodia, Buntan will be thinking of his country, and his personal journey to get there.“My family is very proud of me,” he says.
Jan. 20, 2021
HFCA launched this award in 2019 to celebrate the achievements of our female footballers and it was appropriate to name it after our friend Scott Neeson as HFCA and CCF (Cambodian Children's Fund) had reached the milestone of a ten year partnership the same year.