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

Girls learn rights at pitchside


Girls play in a five-a-side game on the slippery surface of the Battambang Airfield pitch on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, in celebration of the upcoming International Day of the Girl Child. Photograph: Sarah Bagel/Phnom Penh Post

Seasonal rains did little to deter about one hundred girls from playing football in Battambang on Sunday. In celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child this Thursday, local sports and leadership training organisation SALT Academy organised a football festival for all the girls that participate in their league competition.

The event was held in co-operation with the Garden of Hope Foundation and their 2012 Asia Girl Campaign. Girls of different ages and backgrounds got together for a series of five-a-side friendlies on the Battambang Airfield. It was a great moment to meet peers from other neighbourhoods and make new friends.

The Mighty Girls, a team of talented young players within SALT’s programmes, acted as mentors and coaches for the participants and also helped co-organise the festival. The girls learned important life skills during the day, and in small groups talked about their human rights and about their own futures and careers.

“The girls need to know about their rights in order to protect themselves now and in the future,” said 14-year-old Keourm Kanha, one of the volunteers from the Mighty Girls. “In Cambodia, every child has the right to education and participation, among other [things],” she said.

“The right to protect your body, which is part of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, is very important for them to know as well, because many girls here are victims of domestic violence or abuse. Knowing about it is the first step to actively change your situation.”

Kanha is set for further work on promoting girls’ rights in the region, and will travel today to a conference in Taipei, Taiwan, that brings together outstanding young women from all over Asia for a week of cultural exchange and dialogue. Kanha will represent Cambodia in the conference that is organised by the Garden of Hope Foundation.

For further information visit the Asia Girls Campaign on Facebook.

Originally published by the Phnom Penh Post here: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2012100959173/Sport/girls-learn-rights-at-pitchside.html
(“The English-language Phnom Penh Post is the oldest and most comprehensive independent newspaper covering Cambodia today.”)