ROONG – The blistering and humid heat of the Cambodian countryside in the village of Roong, near Phnom Penh, doesn’t stop the boys and girls running around in between lessons, so much so that the dry playground is full of holes and grooves that would cause professional athletes problems.
But their enthusiasm and smiles always shine through. And it’s even possible to play better barefoot: as the minutes go by, every exercise becomes a challenge. The aim is to improve and play together, because the individual only serves to help the team emerge here. There isn’t a ranking based on merit, you win as a group and you respect your opponents in doing so.
Even in the final tournament, which involves all the 14-year-old children who are finishing their journey with Inter Campus, importance isn’t given to the result on the pitch, but to the educational purpose it serves. And when the children come across the words ‘Friendship, Solidarity, Loyalty’ upon the certificates being handed out at the final awards ceremony, they understand the scope of the teachings that Inter Campus have transmitted to them over the past few years even more deeply.
A shared journey, one that hasn’t always been easy: you just have to think about the wet season, when pitches are flooded and activities are brought to a halt. At the same time, however, combining school and sport has allowed many children to go down a path where education has taken centre stage and football has been the instrument to achieve this.