News Scotland and Cambodia strengthen close existing bonds by signing historic MOU till 2020

At the 2008 Homeless World Cup in Melbourne, Australia the Cambodian team were competing for the first time.

It was a new experience for everyone at HFCA and at times we felt a bit lost at such a massive event. Then the Scottish team took us under their wing. Why? We will never really know why but it was the warmth and friendship they showed our young team that made us feel like we belonged at the Homeless World Cup.

Scotland and Cambodia teams at the 2017 Homeless World Cup in Olso. Three great Scotsmen in this picture. HWC Founder Mel Young, CCF Founder Scott Neeson and Glasgow Rangers FC legend Ally Dawson. Photo Romain Kedochim.

The welcome they gave us showed us what the Homeless World Cup really is all about. Since Melbourne, the Scottish and Khmer teams gravitated towards each other at every Homeless World Cup. Sharing life experiences and wanting to learn more about each others personal stories, countries and culture. 

So it seemed a natural fit for our two organisations - Street Soccer Scotland and HFCA - to take that friendship to the next level. We recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will enable staff and players from both organisations to collaborate, share knowledge and skills, and gain access to expertise and cultural experiences.

(L to R) Former Liverpool FC and current Celtic FC manager Brendan Rogers, Street Soccer Scotland Founder David Duke & Sir Alex Ferguson at the SSS Gala Ball in 2017.

I’ve had the privilege of experiencing football at its highest level but I know only too well what a positive impact it can have at every level. The benefits to the physical and mental health of those playing cannot be understated and the work Street Soccer Scotland does every day across the country plays a big part and must be encouraged and supported.

- Sir Alex Ferguson, Official Ambassador, Street Soccer Scotland

Street Soccer Scotland is a social enterprise which uses football inspired training and personal development as a medium to empower people who are affected by social exclusion, to make positive changes in their lives. Street Soccer Scotland operate in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness.

Scottish and Khmer teams together in Amsterdam at the 2015 Homeless World Cup. Scottish team wearing their Cambodia jerseys! Photo P Grogan.

Working 365 days a year all across Scotland, they believe sport can inspire, motivate, develop and unite people from all backgrounds. By inspiring people to be all they can be on and off the pitch, this increases people's motivation for life and success, which in turn helps them develop as a person, increasing confidence, self esteem, self efficiency all whilst developing trust.Ultimately Street Soccer Scotland believe sport provides opportunity to participate in life, tackle social exclusion and it provides an opportunity for real impactful social change.

David Duke with Langeng in Chile in 2014. Photo P Grogan.

The effects of poverty are brutal and devastate communities. Living in this environment means people are faced with a lack of opportunity, which leads to a lack of hope. When someone has no hope it becomes dangerous. I have experienced this and can only describe it as being locked in a cold and dark room with no doors. Waking up everyday with a feeling of hopelessness can lead to poor mental health, addiction, crime and in some cases death.

- Speaking from personal experience, CEO and Founder David Duke states

2017 was a huge year for our new partner Street Soccer Scotland and its Founder David Duke as Street Soccer Scotland won 2017 Scottish Charity of the year and David was awarded one of Britain's highest honours, an MBE in the New Year Honours list. 

David receives the award for Scottish Charity of the year at the 2017 Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations annual awards ceremony.

On receiving the good news of the MBE, David said: "Our ethos is trying to help people help themselves with a bit of guidance and opportunity. Back in 2004 when I was in a difficult situation myself with homelessness and stuff like that, it was people who provided me with support and opportunities that allowed me to move out of that. We're just trying to repeat that and inspire others."

"I'm happy to accept it but I'm just the frontman, it's on behalf of everybody I work with and who helped me. There's nothing fancy that we do, we just try to connect people to build trust and help people along. If everybody does a little bit we can make a big difference."

(L to R) Cambodian Children's Fund Founder Scott Neeson, Street Soccer Scotland Founder David Duke and HFCA Founder Paraic Grogan in Oslo, Norway in 2017.

Everyone at HFCA is delighted that our close friendship between HFCA and Street Soccer Scotland will lead to closer relationships between Cambodia and Scotland. We look forward to learning from the amazing work SSS are doing on so many levels and giving Scottish visitors to the HFCA program a special Khmer welcome when they come to visit our youth in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Street Soccer Scotland are a stand out organisation for the world class programs they deliver and their 100% commitment to changing people lives in a sustainable and respectful manner. Its a great privilege and honour to work with them.

- Said Paraic Grogan on signing the MOU
Cambodian & Scottish teams at the 2016 Homeless World Cup in Glasgow, Scotland. Picture P Grogan.

Not only are Street Soccer Scotland a great organisation off the pitch they are very good on it too. At the 2011 Homeless World Cup in Paris they won the event for the second time beating Mexico 4 - 3 in an epic final.

We are delighted to have signed a memo of understanding between Street Soccer Scotland and Happy Football Cambodia Australia. This will allow Staff and Players from both organisations, a chance to share knowledge and experiences. In Scotland, we use football to tackle social exclusion, and provide a platform for players to connect and build relationships by providing support and opportunities and although the landscape of Scotland and Cambodia is very different, we believe that there can be shared learning and experiences which will enhance both organisations. Through participating in the Homeless World Cup, every year Team Scotland and Team Cambodia player's have developed lasting friendships, and we want to extend that by offering support from afar, and hopefully help HFCA generate more impact. The Homeless World Cup event allows us to make friends across the world with people who use sport to create impact, and this relationship adds to the existing ones, in India and Northern Ireland.

- David Duke, Founder and CEO, Street Soccer Scotland