In their own words, three Ivanhoe Grammar students Hannah, Jet, and Kate describe what visiting our program meant to them.
"For me soccer is somewhat of a foreign sport, so when I heard we would be doing the first day, as soon as we got off the plane, I was quite excited. As soon as we got there I could see the extreme happiness on the faces of the children at Happy Football Cambodia Australia. I knew immediately that this would an extremely fun filled afternoon. At the start of the afternoon there was a little language barrier, but that was so quickly overcome because we were all there to play this one game. Once we played our first game I saw their amazing foot skills, and how they were so happy to play the game. I saw them giggle and try to help out with some of my not so amazing foot skills."
"After the first game, I came back to find a young girl kicking by herself against a wall, which broke my heart a little bit. This young girl had no girls to play kick to kick with or practice with. So, I began to play with her. She taught me to kick properly, how to deflect goals, and the basics of soccer, without a single word of English - which I found so exceptional. There was a connection there that was just magnificent. We played for hours, there was just an unlimited amount of energy for this young girl. When it began to rain we ran out and I could not have felt any more love for this girl." - Hannah
"For me, Happy Football Cambodia Australia was one of the most enjoyable moments of our trip. As we got off the bus having just landed earlier that morning, we didn’t really know what to expect. What we found was a complex of soccer pitches brimming with smiling kids. After a quick introduction, we got into the games, and we found ourselves to be quickly outnumbered by skilful Cambodian children and teenagers. After playing a few matches we got to know the kids, who were all incredibly friendly and welcoming to us."
"The language barrier wasn’t too much of a problem – we were surprised to find that many of the kids spoke great English, so our poorly spoken Cambodian didn’t affect conversations as much as we thought it might. After a few games, our team brought out the Australian football, which was fantastic to kick around with kids who had never heard of the sport. The program was the most amazing experience for all of us, and served as our first taste of service in the trip. To meet such amazing kids and adults who were so welcoming and friendly to us was incredibly special, and individually made me feel much more comfortable in the new environment of the country. What the program is doing for these amazing kids is truly incredible. Thank-you Happy Football Cambodia for such a great experience that I know I won’t forget!" - Jet
"Ivanhoe Grammar School was warmly welcomed by Happy Football Cambodia Australia in Phnom Penh. First, we were taught how to play Cambodian football by the lovely coaches, and were then split into small groups, playing against each other and alternating between the groups. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time playing with the kids, they were so eager to play soccer."
The program is a great opportunity for disadvantaged youth in Cambodia, and socialising with each other brightened one another’s day. My experience at Happy Football Cambodia Australia was truly amazing, seeing the children so happy and their enthusiasm, was very rewarding. It was a fun environment to play in and many long-lasting friendships were made through the day. Although it was sad to leave, I know I will be staying in contact with the coaches and kids involved.- Kate