In rural Kampong Chhnang, 61-year-old Van Sovan watches as his squad are put through the paces in the midday Cambodian heat. Touch, pass, pass, shoot – practice makes perfect.
Sovan, the team’s founder and head coach, is wearing a newly gifted cap, embroidered with the emblems of the famed South Sydney Rabbitohs and west London’s Fulham Football Club. In the 2009 football season, Fulham made it to the inaugural UEFA Europa League final. They lost, but it proved a significant year and milestone in the history of the club.
10,000km away, in Cambodia’s Kampong Chhnang province, a more significant milestone was being reached during that same season. Sovan’s team, the Kampong Chhnang Women’s Under-21s, was established, by the then-teacher and administrator at the local Youth and Sport department.