Kanha from Cambodia (Asian Girl Ambassador 2012)

Kanha (right) with Garden of Hope Foundation CEO, Ms. Hui-Jung CHI

Kanha (right) with Garden of Hope Foundation CEO, Ms. Hui-Jung CHI

Kanha Keourm is a 15-year-old girl from Battambang, Cambodia. Like girls her age around the world, she enjoys playing with friends, but what makes her story special is that through playing, Kanha can live a better, safer life and help others to do the same. The reason she can do all this is that she’s a member of the Mighty Girls soccer team.

In Cambodia, soccer is regarded as a men’s sport, but the SALT Academy, which was set up by a FIFA coach, Samuel Schweingruber, is working to change that. The organizers hope that by encouraging girls to play, they can keep them safe from human traffickers. The academy has established several local female soccer teams, and the most successful of them is the Mighty Girls.

Kanha has been a key member of the team since 2010, and she helped them win the national championship in 2012. She has also played for the Mighty Girls in international tournaments, but being part of this team isn’t just about being a star on the soccer field. Each member of the Mighty Girls is required to work hard in school, and Kanha is now top of her class.

Kanha (left) was 2012 Asian Girl Ambassador.

Kanha (left) was 2012 Asian Girl Ambassador.

Thanks to her efforts, she is likely to become the first person in her family to finish secondary school. Many girls from her region, including all but one of her sisters, leave Cambodia and make a dangerous and illegal trip to Thailand in the hopes of finding manual work. By staying in school, Kanha believes that she can inspire other girls to study hard and complete their schooling.

Along with her teammates, Kanha also coaches younger girls in soccer, helps them with their English studies and teaches them valuable life skills. Speaking about this work, she says, “I am excited to know that even though I am small, I know how to teach and can see all the girls at the schools learning more too.”

In soccer and in life, Kanha is a winner! (By Andrew Crosthwaite)

You can view her PowerPoint Presentation here

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