The two weeks in Melbourne during the Homeless World Cup were a fantastic experience for the five players and two support staff who came for the jouney of a lifetime. The squad arrived a week early so they could get accustomed to being outside Cambodia for the first time in their lifes , which was a huge culture shock. With the exception of the coach none of the sqaud had been on a plane, train or tram before. In week one the squad stayed at Betty's house. Betty is a friend of HFCA committee member Boris and when our original accomadation fell through she saved the day by putting seven people up at her house. Thanks Betty, you are a legend. Apart from training every day in the lead up to the competition we took the squad on lots of trips to show them all that Melbourne and Victoria has to offer. Riding the Puffing Billy train was a highlight.
Three of the players from our squad of eight did not make it to Melbourne so we had to use substitute players supplied from by the HWC. All of these sub players were Australians and had experienced homelessness at some point in their life. We started and finished well with wins over Sierra Leone and Sweden respectively. Apart from heavy defeats to Ghana, Russia and Netherlands the team more than held their own and came very close to beating the USA and were actually winning 5-4 at halftime before eventually losing 5-6. The games and results were not that important to the Cambodian squad and the HFCA committee. What was important was the life changing experience the HWC allowed them to have. For two weeks they were professional footballers, their only concern training and getting their picture taken by fans.
For the first time in their lives these players were not just poor street kids from Phnon Penh, they were heroes wearing the Cambodia jersey with pride- Paraic Grogan, Founder HFCA
As chairperson of HFCA I want to thank all our committee members, Boris Cosic, Gaye Miller, Lynn Ciurlionis, Chris Turton, Sophal Uoy, Yoriko Otomo, Shane Kinston and Steve Jolly for your fantastic efforts over the last three years to make this dream come through. Thanks so much to Ireland's Jonno Lally, Fergal Quinn and Mike Cullinane for their great support. Thanks to our partner ACE for their large donation and support before and during the tournament. Well done to team manager Chao Vibol and team coach In Sokha.Thanks to Melissa Razuki and Ivanhoe Grammar. Thanks to the HWC for paying the costs of flights and more importantly believing in the Cambodian team when we really struggled to get over the line. Massive thank you to Fair Play co-organiser Jon Hammond for all his efforts to raise money for HFCA .