In February, Australian student and rugby fan Mary Crowley, spent some time with Kampuchea Balopp to learn about what we do and to assist us with some of the training sessions and work with our coaches on improving their English language skills. Mary made a significant contribution in the time she spent with us and has written up about her experience working with Kampuchea Balopp in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to spend two weeks working with Kampuchea Balopp in March 2014. In this time, I travelled with Coach Trainer and Program Development Manager Jean-Baptiste and his team of skilled Khmer coaches, Khemrin, Ra, Khemara and Pheary. I also worked with Anna-Maria Nugent (Fundraising coordinator) on providing some English lessons to the Cambodian coaches.
Training takes place at several locations in Phnom Penh where the team coaches rugby to disadvantaged children. The highlight of the experience was being able to share in the fun and play rugby with the kids who have boundless energy and a willingness to learn. It wasn’t until I was participating in the training sessions that I began to appreciate the true value of the work this French/Cambodian NGO does.
On its most fundamental level, Kampuchea Balopp brings happiness and fun to the lives of underprivileged kids by giving them the opportunity to play rugby regularly where they would not otherwise be able to.
The enthusiasm with which the kids play and the admiration and respect that they have for their amazing coaches is testament to just how much this experience means to them. The physicality involved in the tackling is something that these energetic kids particularly enjoyed; both the boys and girls.
Finally, rugby brings out the competitive spirit in these beautiful and enthusiastic children. In speaking with the coaches, it is apparent that they strive to teach more than rugby though. They hope to have a long term impact on the children’s lives by showing them the value of cooperation and hard work.
That is the benefit of Kampuchea Balopp training up Khmer coaches to run these clinics. Having grown up in similar conditions as the kids they teach, Khemrin, Ra, Khemara and Pheary are role models for the children who show that sport is both a productive pastime to improve fitness and quality of life.
In all, I felt very lucky to have worked with Kampuchea Balopp. Everyone is so committed and so enthusiastic about their work with these beautiful children that it is hard not to be affected by their comradery, passion for teaching rugby and making a difference. Kampuchea Balopp’s investment in the futures of Cambodian children makes it well worth getting behind in any way possible.
Mary Crowley, 19, Australia