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Ivanhoe Grammar School Cambodia Service Project 2023 – Day Ten Students’ Reflection

IGS students and Happy Football Cambodia

To continue from Day Nine Reflection blogging of the Ivanhoe Grammar School Cambodia Service Project 2023, this article reposting the reflections from the assigned students on their Day TEN experiences and impressions:

Day 10, Team 2. Happy Cambodia Football Village Cup.

Today was the Happy Cambodia Football Village Cup where 8 teams across Siem Reap represented their village and came together to participate in a soccer tournament. Many of the children participating had not been to the city before, so this tournament offered the opportunity for them to see Siem Reap and more importantly, Angkor Wat, an integral part of their country’s heritage. I, along with other Ivanhoe boys, coached the Orrong village team and together we reached the finals. Unfortunately, we lost in a very close game, and the boys were devastated. It was an interesting experience; in that, I went along on a journey with the Orrong village team, and although we had come from such diffrerent backgrounds, we were able to share similar feelings.


As I was assigned the role of a supporter, my job was to cheer on both of our teams and provide encouragement to the very young and talented players which was no problem at all given both our boy and girl teams both made it to the finals! The boys game was VERY close and ended in a 5 round pentalty shoot out which we unfortunately lost but had everyone sitting on the edge of their seat and it was amazing to watch! Unfortunately, the girls’ final wasn’t as close but it was still a great game to watch and was an awesome opportunity for all the girls to show off their skills outside of their home village. I absolutely loved seeing the kid’s passion and skills shine through despite the extremely hot day, with their competitive energy carrying over to all the participating Ivanhoe students, and the tournament ending as an amazing day and definitely one of the highlights of the trip.


Team Three Sunday 25th by Philomena and Tharinie

What began as an early, tiring morning, became a fulfilling experience by the end of the day. We started breakfast before 6:30, with noodle soup and fruit (from a wide range of choices). After our meal, we headed down to the Happy Football Cambodia tournament.

We were introduced to the village we were supporting, ‘Chub Smach’ a village a few hours from Siem Reap. Many of the players from Chub Smach had never been to Siem Reap before. The two (boys and girls) teams were extremely enthusiastic, and eager to play other teams on a full soccer pitch. Despite a slight language barrier, we were soon running our girls through passing and shooting drills they hadn’t tried before. We taught them their positions and made makeshift cardboard team diagrams with plastic water bottle caps to show them where to move during their games. They especially enjoyed the cheer we made for their village. ‘1…2…3…Chub Smach!’ We became so proud as we watched them improve throughout the day. Unfortunately, our team was knocked out of the final in an intense penalty shootout that brought our campaign to its end. We were all disappointed, but the girls took it in stride and made their best efforts to cheer on the teams playing in the final.

The boys’ finals started, and we were immediately drawn into the action. The different village teams playing against each other immersed and engaged everyone in the crowd. Despite not knowing the team names, we differentiated them by referring to them as, ‘bibs’ and ‘non-bibs.’ We ended up rooting for the ‘non-bibs’, for their initial ‘underdog’ showing. Starting off strong, with two goals scored by the ‘non-bibs,’ the game intensified as the ‘bibs’ fought back fiercely, scoring two goals back. At last, a penalty shootout was held to determine the winner in this competitive ‘bibs’ versus ‘non-bibs’ final. One shot in from ‘bibs,’ one shot in from ‘non-bibs.’ We were all crouching in suspense as each goal was either saved or scored. Much to my (Tharinie’s) dismay, the ‘bibs’ scored the winning goal, but it was still well deserved for their unexpected comeback in that game. The girls’ finals were just as intense. With lots of effort from both teams, the ‘bibs’s once again emerged victorious. ( if you would like to find out more about the Tournament, there are a number of pictures and interviews on the Happy Football Cambodia Australia Facebook Page

After saying goodbye to both our new and old Samrong Village friends who came to watch, Team 3 made their way back to the hotel. Upon arrival, we were given the option to either go shopping at the market, which meant a lunch at the non-profit Sister Srey Café, or lunch and relaxation at the hotel. For us (Philomena and Tharinie), the choice for a refreshing afternoon by the pool seemed more appealing. With a smaller group eating lunch at the hotel, it was very quiet and peaceful, giving us a nice change of pace.

When everyone got back, we made plans to get dinner and visit the night markets. Like most of the other lovely meals, we enjoyed the Khmer dishes we ordered. We finally were able to visit the night markets which gave the opportunity to find many more items. Thankfully, our night of shopping didn’t end there. We visited Pub Street, famous for its food stalls and unique activities. We tried out the rolled ice cream and bought a few cute things to bring back to Australia. The end of such a long, but fulfilling day has prepared us for a full sleep in anticipation for the adventures of tomorrow.

Brigitte Cristiano Team 4 Happy Football day reflection

Today we kicked off the day early to visit the Happy Football Cambodia Australia’s soccer tournament. Each team was assigned a female and male team to coach, provide media for and most importantly, to support. We were lucky enough to have the Sras Srong B team for the girls and the Siem Reap Town team for the boys, which we more affectionately called the Stingers. I was fortunate enough to be coaching the girls team alongside Amélie and we both instantly connected with the athletes and were very excited to see them play. Our boys side started off strong and instantly got a lead into the finals. Although, our girls team started off slow but eventually picked up the pace and also got us into the finals. The boys finals were first and it was an intense match which ended in a 1-1 draw, meaning we entered the penalty shoot-out. The shoot-out was easily more intense then the game itself but thankfully, our boys pulled through and won the finals. After a heated match with the boys, it was time for the girls to play finals. Despite a slow start the girls came out of the finals with a 3-0 win. This win was particularly significant as this tournament was the first time any of the girls had left their rural village and visited Siem Reap. We left the tournament absolutely thrilled with the double win our teams achieved.

After a hot and busy morning, we had all day to relax and rejuvenate before dinner and the big day we had coming up. After a big dinner we stayed in the games room of the restaurant and played endless games of Foosball, Pool and darts which ended in a very intense game of snooker. Overall, I am eternally grateful for the opportunities provided for the children who are apart of HFCA and who we were able to support, not only in soccer but in their travels to Siem Reap for the first time. Today is a day which i will always fondly remember and reflect upon.

Stay tune with Sam Inspire blogging series about Ivanhoe Grammar School Cambodia Service Project 2023

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